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Category Archives: Good wine

Wine that I am happy to have spent nearly £20 on. In WSET terms this would be…. good.

Les Arcs and back

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Just back over Easter in the Alps after a first-ever drive down to going skiing. It was torturous before even setting off on account of my knuckle-headedness in not getting my passport back from an embassy in time. We missed half the holiday because of my stupidity. Dad of the Year? I think not.

So, unhappy wife. Half as much skiing. Half as much wine drinking. Half as much saussison and beaufort eating. Do I not like that.

Thankfully, we were rewarded with lots of snow, some sun and I was lucky enough to enjoy my other great passion – skiing.

We took with us a bottle from my Wine Society stash; you never can trust a ski resort supermarche. It was Allegrini’s La Grola 2010 from Veronese which is 80% Corvina Veronese, 10% Oseleta and 10% Syrah and aged in neutral oak for 16 months.

My notes say:

Burnt rubber nose? Plums & sour cherry, figs. Country herbs and pepper, and something a bit smokey. Firm and grippy with nice mouth-drying tannin. Quite long

I must say, at 1800m and feeling the heady effects of altitude, this definitely tasted pretty sublime and it went perfectly with a spicy pasta dish my wife made. Suffice to say I’m not sure it’s a stonking wine, but good enough.

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Overall remarks:Get to the chopper!‘ = Good = 3

Packaging: Classy but a little uninspiring

Eco-credentials: None

Price: actually can’t find a price because this was from the Wine Society bought in 2010.

When we got back I cracked open another Wine Society bottle, something I bought ages ago. Domaine Saint Prefert is a Chateauneuf du Pape producer of very good red and white. This was a 2010 white – actually my first CDP white and is a blend of 80% Clairette and 20% Rousanne. Holy-moly this was f*cking tasty. Robert Parker gave this 90 points in the year of the vintage, so high praise. Put it this way, the 2010 red version goes for about £160. The white’s not as much but still punchy for a Tuesday school night…

What is it? Baked apple, hint of vanilla, some stone fruit and honey and long long long. It’s so unctuous you just want to keep drinking and drinking and, oops, so we did…

Overall remarks:Do it. Come on. Do it now!‘ = Very good = 4

Packaging: Simple, classy and love the embossed bottle. Winner!

Eco-credentials: None

Price:  Very little on the tinterweb about the 2010 vintage, but I think this is somewhere around the £30 mark

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Play it again Sam

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Humphrey Bogart’s eponymous character in Casablanca never actually says ‘Play it again Sam’. It’s one of the most misquoted film lines of all time – right up there with Dirty Harry, Star Wars and the Graduate.

Matetic Vineyards’ Corralillo Riesling from Chile’s Casablanca region is a mis-nothing; in fact it’s absolutely on the money, for me at least.

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By god I loved this wine. Riesling is my greatest white wine love. If I could only have one white grape for the rest of my life, Riesling would be it hands down; the different expressions for me – from the absolutely razor sharp bone dry, to off-dry richer styles – are simply wonderful.

I think this is the first Chilean Riesling I’ve had, and given Casablanca’s coastal location, this is super-charged, practically popping back out of your throat! It’s all saline, kerosene, grapefruit peel, lime and tart, under-ripe green apples. There’s also a beguiling floral note to it, that lifts it from being dagger-to-the-jugular dry (a bone-crunching 6.3 gr/l on the residual sugar levels) to something all together more intriguing.

It’s a pungent one and won’t be to everyone’s taste but I LOVE IT.

Scores on the doors:

Overall remarks: Arnie says ‘You’re a choirboy compared to me!‘  = 5 points!

Packaging: a simplistic horse with a few too many legs or a very large tail? It conjures up images of a hardy donkey or a South American child’s toy?

Eco-credentials: None

Price: £13.50 from my local wine shop but possibly cheaper elsewhere online

@jk_cunningham

 

Ciu Ciu and Ciu again

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Straight off I really liked the Ciu Ciu ‘Le Merlettaie’ Pecorino 2014. I’d just got home with Ashley and as soon as I walked through the door was gagging for some wine.

This is chewable. It’s got depth and a density to it, quite viscous-like and fat but with a decent punch of acidity to go with lovely baked apple, pear, grapefruit peel and something floral.

It’s way too easy to drink. If it were a school night I’d be careful, but as I wrote this on Friday night, my wife was in with baby #2 (Astrid) trying to get her to sleep, even after I’d already done an hour of fruitless labour; as you can imagine it went down easily…

Scores on the doors:

Overall remarks: Arnie says ‘Get to the chopper!‘ = solid 3 points

Packaging: delightfully heavy and tapered bottle, with a lovely embossed image of a sort of medieval Italian piazza with some children holding what look like severed heads or helmets?? I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation as to what it is, but I’m stumped.

Eco-credentials: gets a bonus point because it is certified Organic and Vegan according to CCPB – the Italian non-food organic certifier.

Price: Some retailers like Buonvino do it for £12.95. I got mine from Highbury Vintners for essentially £10.90 (less 10% as a wine club member)

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Waa waa whine whine wine

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Hola. I’m looking forward to writing again about wine , but also London/Dad observations (now with two kids, one a bit of a whiner) as and when they come to me.

Over the last year wine has basically just been another thing on the shopping list, not really something to savour – especially with belt-tightening as life in London with kids takes its toll on the finances. I mindlessly add bottles to the Ocado shop, or grab and go – a depressingly sad state of affairs.

Wine has become a necessary staple since baby #2 came a long (*am I one of those middle class alchies?).  If any of you are familiar with Hurrah for Gin‘s hilarious take on parenting and the need for a drop of alcohol to stay sane, you’ll know what I mean. We probably get through half a bottle between us per night; the fuzz of wine before the dream-feed/night-feed stretch and my crunchingly painful 6.15am wake up call (not complete till Ashley is heard shouting ‘Daddy get out of bed and play with me‘) is welcomed after a day at the office….

Well fuck that. I love wine too much to let a WSET Advanced qualification go down the pisser just because I’m lazy and buy crap for a tenner from my local mini-market (which, to give it it’s dues now does a hipsterishly-good selection of London-brewed beers).

Primarily I’ll be reviewing wines from the following sources;

  • my own stash of laid down wines at Fine & Rare and The Wine Society
  • the monthly wine club box put together by the wonderful team at Highbury Vintners
  • the occasional supermarket stop off when I’m being lazy and/or if my Mother in Law comes round with tropical-fruit-mouth-bomb NZ sauvignon…

I’ll probably do a rating based on WSET’s systematic system, overall remarks will be Arnold Schwarzenegger-based, along the lines of:

Packaging; labels are art nowadays and since packaging has become an integral part of the experience, I’ll provide some commentary on label and story-telling.

Eco-credentials bonus; if there is any indication about eco-production method, sustainability/biodiversity credentials disclosed there will be a bonus point.

Retail price (if possible I’ll state the en-primeur price if relevant)- note that I pay 10% less with my vintner because they kindly knock that off for the monthly subs.

@jk_cunningham

 

 

 

 

 

You cannot be serious man!

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Back in the UK about 8 weeks now, and as Arnold says, let’s get serious.

A list of the grown-up, serious things I’m currently occupied with includes;

– trying to a job to support myself, my wife and kid, in London with a modicum of comfort (see below)

– buying a pair of serious shoes – by that I mean brown leather handmade brogues, and definitely NO MORE TRAINERS (Ed. My wife wrote that bit)

– buying a new ‘grown up’ wardrobe – by that I mean, SERIOUS shirts, SERIOUS jumpers and SERIOUSLY expensive accessories (…no more jumpers that make you look like a hip-hop wannabe from the ’90s…)

– having serious conversations like:

Wife – “when you have a minute let’s talk about what nurseries to sign Ashley up to” (Ashley is only 6mo old btw)

Me – “OK”.

Wife – “they’re frikking expensive but if we don’t sign him up now to a Montessori place, he might miss out on life’s opportunities and end up a pauper with no prospects”.

Me – “OK”.

Wife – “So, when are you going to get a job?”.

Me – “Soon” (but only once head stops spinning…)

– Tried and spectacularly failed to sign on for jobseekers allowance

To lighten the weight of all this seriousness, I have:

– bought a new pair of old-school Adidas Torsion trainers – swoon

– played a fair bit of golf

– eaten my body weight in burritos

– had conversations that go like:

Me – “would you rather have spaghetti for eye-lashes or salad for hair?”

Wife – “obvs the spaghetti because you could colour and trim it”

Me – “no you can’t trim it, or colour your spaghetti eye-lashes neither”

Wife – “OK what kind of salad?”

Me – “Frisee”

Wife – “mmm, tough one, but I’d go salad hair”

So life has very definitely got much tougher and more complex. But not on the wine front.

I am LOVING being back in London, and recently took delivery of 6 bottles from my Fine & Rare collection that has been out of reach for the past 2 years.

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Today we had Chateau de Saint Cosme’s 2007 Domaine de la Crillonne Cote du Ventoux – 100% grenache from South Rhone. In 2009 it was given a score of 89 by Robert Parker. I must have neglected to read his review saying that it should be drunk within 1 – 2 years, so we are about 5 years late according to the Master. However referring back to the Wine Society’s 2007 opening offer, the drink window was 2014 – 2016 so either Parker or the good people at the W.S are missing the mark by a country mile…..

Still let’s not be so serious about this; we ate delicious 14 day aged mutton from the fabulous Turner & George, with a ridiculously good gravy, spring greens, carrots and smashed roast waxy potatoes. The wine was DELISH.

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I think Parker had it wrong – shock horror!!!. According to his timescale he was suggesting drinking it at 2009 – 2011. Having cellared this for the past 7 years, I think this wine still has  a bit of aging potential. On the nose it is an abundance of under-ripe blackberries, a hint of spice and slightly of wet leaves. On the mouth it was bursting with firm tannins and red fruit – sour red currant – a slightly gamey flavour and an almost chili-like twang.

With the lamb it was gorgeous regardless of readiness – a perfect, serious, match.

 

Tree-hugging? Computer says no

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I started the week on social media talking about petitions and tokenism.

I don’t normally ‘do’ petitions but for the first time in a long time I got really very wound up about what has recently like a systematic attack on the environment. So I felt compelled to ask people to sign not one, but two petitions.

The first related to Michael Gove’s ridiculous decision to shunt climate change from the geography curriculum to chemistry. The second to bring to wider attention the disgusting corruption of one of Malaysia’s ministers – Taib, the Chief Minister for Sarawak.

There seems to have been a lot of environment-bashing in the news recently. Tokenistic care for the environment is rife – it’s all too easy to say you care, without really thinking about what that means and how you are changing your life accordingly.

Among the Guardian articles about the environment I have read recently, here are a couple of choice examples:

1. Global food production going haywire; in Chile where prawns are washing up on the shore and in China where thousands of pigs have been dumped in a river

2. Stinking rich caviar-eaters, not content with bringing about the collapse of the Beluga are driving the illicit demand for paddlefish eggs from the US

3. Poachers slaughtered 86 elephants  whilst the CITES summit was agreeing to new sanctions for trading in endangered animals

4. More subsidies for fossil fuels as the UK Government releases a budget that supports fracking

5. Another story about Chinese hunger for commodities and the sell off of forests in South America.

So, while I’ve got a (small) audience and seeing as I’m up on my soap box about environmental tokenism… it was WWF’s Earth Hour this week. As Nan, from the Catherine Tate show would say…..

In case you don’t know about Earth Hour, it’s a global campaign whereby major celebrities, businesses and everyday individuals ‘commit to saving the planet’ by switching off all their lights for one hour. This really is like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic (an expression favoured by some environmentalists to deride token actions).

No-one, not even the WWF, can say whether Earth Hour has over the years, and after all those millions of pounds in marketing spend, actually resulted in less consumption of electricity or genuinely created more sustainable consumers through increased awareness. Much needed at a time when concern for the environment is at its lowest in 22 years.

In Malaysia, trying to live with ethical consumerism in mind is hard; recycled, chemical-free, organic (organic usually means ‘village’ as opposed to farmed), fairtrade – sorry, ‘computer says no’.

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Ethical wine consumption? Here – forget about it. Luckily, one of my team kindly bought me some on a recent trip to Perth. This Cullen Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon-Semillon is both biodynamic and carbon neutral (10 points for those of you playing sustainability bingo).  And what a tree-hugging delight it is too. I had been planning on saving this li’l beauty, but instead cracked it open at a BYO Japanese restaurant with friends.

I absolutely adore Western Australian wines – the idea and image of surf salt-spray drifting over vineyards in Margaret River makes me go a bit gooey – especially Sauv-Semillon blends, the fruit and minerality of Sauvignon counter-balanced by the oily and floral characteristics of Semillon. I had high hopes for this…

…and it was everything I had wished for – a hint of oak and tropical fruit flavours followed by a whiff of cap-gun sulphur on the nose, and in the mouth it was clean, citrusy, slick and slightly saline, perfectly complementing the oily tempura and exquisitely fresh sashimi. Fantastic!

A carbon neutral and biodynamic wine would normally scream ‘tokenistic’ to me. Computer says no? Actually computer says yes!

Selamat malam

@jk_cunningham

Bin man

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I haven’t drunk wine for ages so there’s not much to say other than I liked this one very much!

Finally getting round to eating the stew I made a month or so ago, we decided to honour it with a decent bottle of red from Penfolds – a brand I have always shunned for some reason. I haven’t seen many Penfolds in my local deli – this one was brought back from Australia by one of my team after a visit to their winery, so it was a real treat to open something of quality.

Penfolds 2011 Bin 8 is big and youthful Cabernet-Shiraz blend. On the nose it was fruity and perfumed, with cardamon in the background. Heavy in the mouth, it was busting with sweet and sour red-berry fruit and a slightly peppery finish. The tannins and oak were very well integrated, but acid was quite high and so it needed food. There was a definite bite and a certain meatiness which I loved, complementing the tangy beef, aubergine and parmesan stew perfectly.

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One for the bin? definitely not.

Selamat malam

@jk_cunningham

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