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Category Archives: Syrah

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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Spanish muscle and English passion

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Wine tasting (read quaffing), is once again proving to be a lovely distraction from the hum-drum of everyday life. Not that the expansion of my family from 3 to 4 is hum-drum; far from it – but there is a certain routine of going to work to a job you aren’t particularly enjoying at the moment

I’ve preoccupied my time looking on LinkedIn a fair bit – at roles that I’m suited to, that look great, that I’ve even applied for to get the practice – only to fall short. What am I doing wrong? Is it me? Is it them? Anxiety creeps in, pulse races, nerves jangle.

Probably not the best time turn to the bottle then. And yet, when things are hum-drum you do turn to things you know; a renewed sense of passion for things that usually fall away when life is, on the whole more varied and interesting. Plus I have two kids now, so actually wine is practically the one thing keeping me sane.

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Two outstanding bottles to share this week, first this fine Spanish beauty Huerta de Albala Barbazul 2012 which arrived in my wine box from Highbury Vintners earlier in the month. This is gorgeous, muscular and inky, quite Rhone-like. It’s from the Cadiz region of Spain (which tends to grow a lot of red Bordeaux varietals) – made most famous by Sherry – and is a combo of syrah and cab-sauv. My scrawled notes say; tight, black fruit, baked figs, meaty. I really enjoyed this gutsy number.

Score: 4/5 and a big shout on the Arnie-ometer ‘Do it. Come on. Do it now!

Label: a stunning, embossed ‘White Horse’ motif. I’d love to know how this was inspired. Given it is nearly identical to the white horse in Oxfordshire, I wonder if there’s a connection somehow.

Price: £10.90 (Highbury Vintners)

att_large_5625Courtesy of Visituk.com

Next up is my first ever UK wine. Ok so I’ve drunk plenty of English wine, but never reviewed it, and certainly haven’t paid it much attention. Don’t know why when English wine is getting rave reviews everywhere, especially the sparkling wine.

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Stopham Estate’s Pinot Blanc 2013 is, quite simply, stunning. If I blind tasted this, I would never ever guess this was English. It’s quite full and the initial zip of sweetness is beautifully countered by intense acidity and dryness. The flavours are really quite tropical; guava/passion fruit, pink grapefruit and gooseberry. I was more of a fan than my wife, and definitely will be getting some more of this.

Score: 4/5 and another ‘Do it. Come on. Do it now!‘ from Mr Schwarzenegger

Label: Not really a fan. Pretty basic, but probably reflects the fact that they don’t have the budget for fancy designers.

Price: £14.99 (Waitrose)

@jk_cunningham

Bah humbug Crozes-Hermitage?

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Christmas is nearly upon us, yet I am barely in a festive mood.

The humidity and warmth doesn’t jive with 35 years of Christmas experiences and habit.  Nothing can be weirder, for example, than eating pizza whilst torrential rain hammers down and lightening cracks, to a soundtrack of festive songs.

I am nostalgic for the familiar lead in to December.  Boozy office parties and hot water bottles; stocking-filler panics and menu planning; Christmas day walks and games by the fire – all are off the cards in KL.  And so I yearn for these things.  Instead, we are spending Christmas and New Year in Thailand. Not only will we be on the beach – climbing rocks and diving reefs – but eating un-Christmasy food and drinking un-Christmasy alcohol.

It’s around this time that my Dad asks me to put together a wine list.  I carefully craft a selection to pair with a week’s worth of beautiful, organic meat from Oxford’s Feller Son & Daughter, usually from the Wine Society or our old local wine shop Highbury Vintners.  This year there is no such fun, so I have to make do with memories of years gone by.

I can’t even console myself with slugging bottles of wine here in Malaysia during Advent.  My hunger for wine has been depressed because of the supply here. I do feel content not drinking crap wine for the sake of it, but also deeply sad that I can’t indulge a passion – especially at this time of year.

But today, some early festive cheer!

My wife bought a lovely bottle when last in the UK for a friend – James – who she was hoping to catch up with for his birthday.  She never did, so she brought it back in her luggage and I’ve benefited (sorry James!).  And boy, this is what I’ve been missing out on.  To accompany a truly epic chili con carne I made (one of my specialities – this one made with three cuts of beef; tri-tip, steak mince and chuck) I threw caution to the wind and cracked it open.

A £12 bottle (c 50 MYR – which will get you no more than vile piss out here) from John Lewis – this early drinking 2010 Crozes-Hermitage “Les Gravieres” by Jean-Luc Colombo is a classic Northern Rhone Syrah (reviewed here by Anthony Rose).  As I’ve said before, I LOVE Rhone – so was very excited to try something of quality.  And we weren’t disappointed.  It was extremely lively on the nose – white and black pepper, pencil shavings and ink.  Full but not heavy, lean and sinewy with sour plums, blackberry and thyme, this was everything I love about the region – simply an extremely interesting wine.  A Christmasy wine.

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So this particular bottle will shine like a sparkly bauble in my mind for a few more weeks; a reminder that there are still some things that provide comfort and enjoyment at this special time of year – even in new and unfamiliar surroundings.

Who knows, perhaps I’ll follow this up by opening that bottle of 2008 Domaine de Chevalier which I ‘accidentally’ bought at Singapore’s Changi airport…

Selamat malam and Happy Christmas

@jk_cunningham

Did cavemen drink wine?

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Time flies.  In the case of life in KL it’s a little over 7 months.  In the case of Sozzl’d it’s over a month since my last post.  I feel slightly sad about not having written more recently but the fact is I simply haven’t drunk any wine in that time – well, aside from the odd glass in a bar.  I am also realising the limitations of this blog; that to keep my ideas alive I need to feed the blog a diet of wine.  Since good wine is hard to find, it makes finding inspiration to write an equally challenging activity.

Actually, I’ve a fair few more wines in the cooler than in previous months – a perk of travelling to duty-free destinations – so perhaps there’s no excuse for not writing.  But instead of drinking over the past month, I have been eating.  This is KL, after all, where eating is a national sport – loads of bloggers here take their food very seriously.

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Ebony & Ivory

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Ahh, Ebony & Ivory, that unforgettable Paul and Stevie mishap… Well-meaning but a stain, and shame on both their distinguished houses. Why did they do it? Was it their record companies? Or were they both high as kites and thought it would heal the world?

Bizarrely, though, I think the song sums my wife and me up very well, though thankfully our particular partnership seems to be more than just a one-hit-wonder. Since she’s been back from the UK I have been decidedly perkier. No longer am I hugging the pillow in bed. Gone are the days spent staring at the computer because boredom had taken hold. Banished are the solo-lunching and solo-drinking.

She and I together are in many ways like Harvey “Two Face” Dent from Batman. Me – handsome, charismatic, honourable. Her – devilish, scheming, tyrannical (ok some of that may be poetic licence). Try as we might to wind each other up and win at all costs, I am the Yin to her Yang. Read the rest of this entry

You’re like a big bear

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Having been in this country now coming up to 3 months, a certain philosophical air has settled around me.

Realising, no, admitting to myself that I can suffer from some intense periods of self-doubt, is a an uncomfortable thought. Leaving your country, your home, friends and family for a life unknown should be a time to feel confident, ballsy and a bit gung-ho. But home alone for nearly 3 weeks, I have developed a new-found respect for zen Buddhists who wake everyday to undertake the simplest actions – sweeping the path, clipping the bonsai, sipping green tea – that draw them from their uncertainties towards a point of enlightenment, peace and knowing. Read the rest of this entry

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