Tasks achieved today. (1) ETA (electronic travel authority, a sort of Visa) for visiting Australia. Inputted all my details and then was told I already had one from my visit last October. D'oh. (2) Ordered four books from amazon for reading on the trip. Can't be too heavy; I read heavy stuff all the time, and this reading will be my relaxation and time out. (3) Also from amazon, ordered two SD cards for my digital cameras. I currently have two 128 mb cards, which fit about 80-90 pictures on each. Having two more 256 mb cards will mean I have to get my laptop out less often while I'm on vineyard visits. I'm also paranoid about back-ups, so I'll not have to delete stuff from the SD cards until I can burn back-up CDs. Not a good idea to just have your precious images on the hard drive of a laptop that gets some heavy use and is often near wine. Also, what if it got nicked? (4) Made good progress on an article on re-corking for The World of Fine Wine. Have good quotes from David Ellswood, Serena Sutcliffe and John Kapon.
Tonight I'm dibbling and dabbling with a range of wines. The Cable Bay Pinot from last night is pleasant again tonight. A quick taste of a more commercial wine, the Casillero del Diablo Viognier 2005 Chile (Morrisons, about £5, I think), shows that this is a very appealing perfumed peachy white that manages to capture this grape really well. Attractive stuff, supplemented by 30% fermentation and ageing in French barrels. The main wine this evening has been a Pinotage, but this is a good Pinotage that I approve of and enjoy. It's the Meinert Pinotage 2003 Devon Valley, South Africa (pictured; £7.95 Great Western Wines). There's a hint of the Pinotage funk, described on the back label as 'clove spiciness', but it's at the level where it adds to the wine. The dominant feature is charming vivid red fruit with a subtle herbal edge and plenty of oomph. The big appeal here is that it's food friendly, bold, and fruity. It's moderately serious and good value for the price.
I'm finishing tonight with one of those rare wine moments: something that takes me by surprise and leaves me feeling kind of awestruck and grateful. I decided to sample a small pour of the Fernando de Castilla Antique Pedro Ximenez Jerez (£19.99 50 cl, Wine Rack). I'm familiar with PX - old engine oil colour and consistency, liquid Christmas cake flavours - but this is an exceptional one. It's supersweet, complex, viscous and well balanced. One of the best I've tried. A wine of contemplation, and perfect for a very cold winter's day.