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Category Archives: White wine

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

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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Back and in full effect

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Sozzl’d returns after a two year stint in Malaysia and a full-on lay off. In the meantime we have been joined by a mini-Sozzler, who already has a keen eye for booze.

I am relishing being back in London. KL’s gastronomy may be special, but doesn’t compare to London, and much has changed in 2 years.

We’ve already got stuck into some tasty treats in only a few weeks;

– Gavi Montiero 2013, Rocca

– El Cometa del Sur Blanco 2013, Terra Alta

– Cote du Rhone 2010, E. Guigal

– Chateau La Vielle Croix 2009, Fronsac

– Salice Salentino Rosso 2010, Casa D’Aragona, Puglia

But now looking to get stuck in to full effect with visits and purchases ahoy.

Happy sozzling!

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

Gorgeous Gavi

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Malaysia has been enjoying a recent festive season; Hari Raya (the end of Ramadan) and Merdeka Day (Independence from the British Empire in 1957).  In two weeks’ time it’s Malaysia Day (birth of the Malaysian Federation in 1963).  Families and companies give over whole days to celebrate.  For Hari Raya in particular the month is dedicated to traditional foods at ‘open houses’.  If you like your food, now is a time of plenty.

The feasting is amazing  – except if you get food poisoning, which isn’t uncommon – but the events, being Malaysian, are obviously dry.  The atmosphere feels a little like Christmas – apart from the arguments about Brussels sprouts and which James Bond film to watch – with lots of gift giving, colourful decorations and the sluggishness brought about from eating too much.

Trying to save money on account of some poor financial planning this month, we’ve hardly had anything to drink recently.  Poverty-related abstinence and tee-total partying can only be tolerated for so long.  The booze we bought in M&S a few weeks ago tempts us from the wine fridge (being free as we’d already shelled out for it) and last night it was cracked open at record speed. Read the rest of this entry

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