Been away for the weekend in Plymouth, visiting my younger brother and his family. It's always interesting getting away from London and spending a few days somewhere very different. Whenever I travel, I always wonder what it would be like to live there - a slightly weird trait - perhaps I have itchy feet. Plymouth itself is a city that's gone through some rather ugly development, particularly in the 1960s, but it seems its continuing to this day. Plymouth Hoe, for example, is a lovely natural setting, and then someone went and plonked a high rise concrete hotel on top of it. Nice one.
It was a really good weekend though. We took the kids to the aquarium when we arrived at Friday lunchtime. Saturday morning I managed to grab a set of tennis with my brother (he's called Arthur...sometimes when people are introduced to him they say, 'So what do you like to be called?'), then we went out walking on the coast. We returned back to London this evening in time to catch Manchester City vs. Aston Villa, which looked like ending in a depressing defeat for City, against the run of play, before 17 year old right back Micah Richards headed in the latest of equalizers. Fantastic.
I can't say the same for the wine I'm drinking this evening, though. It's always a challenge for wine writers to know just how to respond to unlikeable wines. If you only say nice things about wine, you end up sounding like an advertising copywriter - indeed, there are a couple of wine writers I can think of who have made a tidy living out of being effusively nice about every wine that passes their lips. But if you share all the critical thoughts that pass through your mind your writing would be poisoned by a Victor Meldrew-like negativity. Tonight I'm going to be appropriately critical, though, about the San Pedro Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Lontue, Chile (Asda £5.98). It's rubbish. I can't stand the label, for a start. 'A masterpiece of taste, aroma and texture. An intense, exquisitely crafted wine of remarkable elegance', it boasts, in tarty italics, right on the front. Let me disagree with this rather grandiose self-assessment. On the plus side, there's a good concentration and some ripe, pure blackcurrant and plum fruit. But this is ruined by a bitter, green streak and spicy oak which doesn't sit at all comfortably, instead attempting to cover over the blemishes like badly applied make-up. It's a crude, ungainly wine of little charm and no elegance. I could drink it, but only if there wasn't anything else available and I'd had a really stressfull day, and I had some strongly flavoured food to mask that bitter finish. Yes, I said I wouldn't mention the g word again, but this is the core problem with this wine.