Music, Rioja, Morrisons & Majestic
Spent this afternoon at Morrisons (a major UK supermarket) press tasting, held at Vinopolis. It was quite disappointing: far too many wines were tired, lacked freshness, or just were rather ordinary. I hate having to say negative things like this, but I have to be honest or I'm no use to anyone as a journalist.
On the way out I wandered through the Majestic store at Vinopolis. What has happened with Majestic's range? I went to their press tasting last week, and came away underwhelmed. And taking a look at the wines they stock in store, I was struck by how much less interesting the range seems to be now compared with, say, two years ago. Majestic used to be brilliant; now they are just merely good.
That brings me round to Rioja, which along with Bordeaux is vying for the title of 'world's most underperforming wine region'. When you consider the resources Rioja has in terms of old vines, climate and fantastic terroirs, how come so much average or poor wine is made? Presumably because they can get away with it: Rioja is a very strong brand with consumers. Tonight, though, I'm sipping Cune's Rioja Reserva 2004 (11.49 Majestic, Waitrose, Wimbledon Wine Cellar), and it's very nice. With ripe dark fruits, it has a hint of modernity, but then there's some spice, earth and minerality that makes it taste more traditional. Reasonable value for money and with room for further development.
So, what about music? I don't like to go on too much about music on this blog, because musical taste is just so personal - even more so that taste in wine. I'm a keen music fan - I have four guitars, which I'm playing quite a bit of late, as well as a mandolin. But I haven't been listening to as much music as I'd have liked to.
Yesterday, picking up older son from boarding school in Devon, I had a few minutes spare so I wandered into town and bought a CD from a lovely little record shop run by a real enthusiast, who complimented me on my selection. It was I want to see the bright lights tonight, by Richard and Linda Thompson, from 1974. I guess you could describe this sort of folk-influenced rock as the musical equivalent of natural wine. A bit quirky, but interesting. My previous CD purchase was a more modern recording: Sarah Bareilles' Little voice, which has two stand-out tracks - Love Song and Gravity. Another album (yes, I know, terribly old fashioned term, but I still miss buying 12" records in gatefold sleeves) that I've listened to a lot of late is The Feeling's Twelve stops and home, which is a modern classic that combines elements of Supertramp, Queen and 10 cc in a thoroughly creative work that's a hundred times better than their follow-up album Join with us.