jamie goode's wine blog: January 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Serious, affordable white Bordeaux

I never drink white Bordeaux. Ever. Nor does anyone else. If you want Sauvignon, you go to New Zealand or the Loire. If you want it with a splash of Semillon, you go to Margaret River. What's the point of Sauvignon with an attitude problem? And it's only Americans who try to oak their Sauvignons.

But we know the truth is more complex than this, if we are honest with ourselves. In particular, we realize that white Graves is serious stuff, and that sometimes Sauvignon/Semillon blends from Bordeaux with a bit of barrel fermentation are worthy of our attention: they're serious, ageworthy wines in their own right.

Tonight I sip a white Bordeaux that is both serious and affordable. It's Chateau Beaumont 'Les Pierrieres' 2006 Premieres Cotes de Blaye Blanc, which Lea and Sandeman list for £7.95. Initially, on opening it Fiona and I had divergent opinions. She's highly sensitive to oak, and doesn't like oaked white wines at all - she immediately rejected this as being oaky. I'm clearly an idiot, and didn't get oak at all when I first tried it. Instead, I got a bit of struck match reduction as the defining feature on the nose. But Fiona is right: Beaumont used new oak barrels for this wine. They fermented it in new barrels destined for their red wine program, understanding that by the time fermentation was complete with the white, the red would be ready to press into the already-used barrels.

The combination of oak, reduction and fresh, herb-tinged fruit results in a fairly complex, savoury, expressive white wine that I reckon will improve in bottle for perhaps five to ten years. It's a really interesting wine, in the style of serious white Graves, but it's affordable.

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Australia day tasting and footy talk

Went to the Australia day tasting today, which was held at Arsenal's impressive Emirates Stadium (though as a City fan I hate to admit this). Unfortunately, it was so crowded tasting proved very difficult. The problem was that the gallery area simply wasn't big enough to cope with four rows of tasting tables; people didn't have the room to taste comfortably (pictured above).
So rather than talk about the wines, let's talk footy. [Coincidentally, my chum Rob and I are heading up to the City of Manchester Stadium this weekend to see City play Arsenal: should be some good football played, as both sides like to do the right thing and play an attractive passing game.] Pictured above is the pitch at the Emirates, where the grass is being encouraged to grow throughout the winter by the use of some bright lights. Remember the 1970s? I have vague recollections of watching the Big Match, and from November through to February most of the games were played on pitches that were browner than they were green, resembling bogs. The keeper would punt a ball upfield and it would plug in the mud.
It may have been a more manly game then, but if you want to play attractive football you need a good pitch, and this sort of attention is needed to keep the grass growing. The alternative is to have a pitch like Chelsea's, which has traditionally cut up badly and then needed relaying half way through the season (remember the famous 'Stamford beach' a couple of seasons ago where Chelsea took on Charlton on a surface that was effectively sand?)

So Man City are struggling a bit at the moment. After showing lightning early season form they've slumped to sixth, although they are still within one win of fourth place. There are five teams fighting for this final Champions league spot – City, Liverpool, Villa, Everton and (potentially, if they continue improving) Spurs, although you could argue that Portsmouth are in the hunt, too.
That City are in this group is remarkable, considering that for the last few years they've been closer to the relegation battle. Sven has a lot to do with this: he's clearly a very, very good club manager. I don't think City's current lack of form is anything to do with him: teams seem to go through these cycles, even when they are managed really well.

Interesting to see that despite the money that Sven has been given, the core of the side is made up of Pearce-era players and youngsters who have come through the academy. The back four of choice in recent months were all here last year: Dunne, Richards, Ball and Onouha. Hamman, Ireland, Johnson, Etuhu, Vassell, Mpenza, Sturridge, Hart, Schmiechel also pre-dated Sven. Of Sven's signings, Petrov and Elano are sensational, and Corluka is also impressive. Gelson Fernandes has also done well, and while Garrido isn't starting, he's got promise. Bianchi didn't work out and Bojinov is crocked. But providing the players can find some fresh inspiration, I don't think City are too far off a top four side.

It's been fun watching the goings on at Newcastle. Newcastle have always had a self-destructive streak, but this is real crash and burn waiting to happen. Allardyce is a very good club manager and they didn't have the patience to let him sort things out, so they sacked him. Then they go and hire Keegan, off the managerial scrap heap.
I've got a soft-spot for King Kev, after he gave us that one season of incredible football when we gained promotion from the Championship with something like 104 goals. Watching Berkovic and Bernabia playing together with Huckerby and Goater banging in goals for fun, and Wright-Phillips beginning to show his best, was brilliant entertainment. But in the premiership Keegan's fragility in the face of pressure began to tell. Not given the media/fan love he seems to need, he appeared to withdraw into a shell. How will he fare in the goldfish bowl of St James' Park? Newcastle fans have passion; they also have unrealistically high expectations for their side. These expectations aren't going to be met, and Newcastle will do well to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lunch at Tate Britain

Had lunch today at Tate Britain, which has a brilliant restaurant as well as some rather good paintings. I was with the team responsible for the London wine trade fair, discussing this year's top 100 tasting. Hamish Anderson, the well-known head sommelier was in attendance and so we let him choose the wines for us: he chose very well. Praepositus Sylvaner 2006 from the Alto Adige was really expressive, aromatic and melony, and the Clonakilla Shiraz 2001 from Canberra District was sensationally good, with expressive, Rhone-like meaty, peppery notes alongside the pure dark fruit. My food was superb: pigeon on white cabbage for starters (gamey, rich) and then a duck cassoulet that was one of the best I've had. A really impressive experience in a lovely setting. Pictured below are some rather attractive freshly pruned plane trees round the corner from the gallery.

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Tio Pepe: a legend

I've just finished writing a commission on Sherry, so I thought it would be appropriate to open some. The bottle I chose is one of the most famous of Sherry brands, Tio Pepe from Gonzalez Byas. It's a fino - a wine made from the main sherry grape, Palomino Fino, that has been aged in cask under a protective layer of yeasts, the flor. This protects the wine from oxygen and contributes a distinctive nutty, appley, yeasty flavour to what would otherwise be a fairly neutral wine. Fortification to 15% adds body to the palate.

The result is a remarkable food-friendly wine that's tangy, fresh and salty. It's quite strongly flavoured: as well as being fresh and precise, there's a depth of flavour that makes this the sort of wine that needs a receptive audience. I think it would work brilliantly with a range of foods, but it's something I'd have to think carefully about serving to dinner party guests, because fino sherry is a bit of an acquired taste.

I love it, and it's something I reckon we should drink more of - along with the other styles of sherry such as amontillado and oloroso. The good news is that it is pretty affordable, too (this is around £8 a 75 cl bottle, and there are cheaper alternatives that are also good). As an aside, it's really good news that as one of the most visible brands of fino, Tio Pepe is such a good quality wine. Remember: the key to fino is buying the freshest bottle you can get your hands on, and then drinking it up within a couple of days of opening. Pictured are Tio Pepe adverts from 1966 (top) and 1975 (below).

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Perfume: the film

Perfume is essentially a rather silly film, but, as someone fascinated by the sense of smell, I found it really interesting. Based on the best-selling novel by Patrick Süskind (which sold over 15 million copies), when it was released in 2006 it was hailed as Germany's most expensive ever film (see this report).

The setting is 18th century France, and the depictions of the grimy bits of Paris at the time are as visually stunning as they are shocking. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born into poverty, but posesses a remarkable talent: he can smell better than anyone else. Much better.

After a chance encounter with a failing master perfumier, played by Dustin Hofmann, Grenouille finds his vocation, creating wonderful scents. But he knows he is missing a magic ingredient, and to find this he embarks on a grisly, murderous quest.
The film descends into a black comedy, which is a shame, because it explores some interesting issues. Chiefly, the idea that for most of us the sense of smell is imprecise and somehow incomplete. It's a sense that has the ability to communicate in a very direct and raw way with our emotions, but much of the time it is strangely muted. I know from walking my dog that there is a whole world of olfactory sensations out there, which, to us humans, is out of our reach. The idea that someone could inhabit that world is a really interesting one.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

A good red Burgundy

I don't drink enough Burgundy. Trying to redress this balance, I opened one this lunchtime. A village Gevrey, it's quite elegant and understated, but at over £20 it feels a little on the expensive side. Perhaps I'm being unrealistic, but if I shell out £20 on a bottle of wine, I want something exciting. It's not that this wine is expensive by the standards of the region - it's actually one of the best £20 red Burgundies I've had - and I suppose this is the reason I don't really drink a lot of Burgundy.

Albert Bichot Gevrey-Chambertin 'Les Corvees' 2004 Burgundy, France
A light red in colour, this is a really pleasant, elegant red Burgundy with restrained cherry fruit and a pleasant earthy, spicy structure. It's got an almost weightless quality to it, with all the components working in harmony. There's a supple, slightly green quality under the fruit, which makes this quite savoury. If it just had a little more richness and fruit sweetness, it would be really top notch. Satisfying drinking now and for the next couple of years. 89/100 (£21 Soho Wine Supply, Harrison Vintners)

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Organic Italian and bits and pieces

Some late night bits and pieces.

Two long walks with the dog today - Richmond Park and Virginia Water (Windsor Great Park) - both were very enjoyable, and reminded me of how lucky we are here to be in easy access of nice green spaces, even though we're living in a London borough. RTL found a dead rabbit and had eaten part of it before I could stop her; she chased a jogger; she almost got killed by two horses; she harrassed some swans. But we did meet another labradoodle.

Spoke to my parents on the phone. My father likes buying cars, and he has a new one. He bought it from a garage who only had one set of keys available. Mother took a drive to Isleham, and on the way stopped to post a letter. She left the engine running. The door closed. The central locking turned on. She was left locked out, with the engine running, with the car on a main road. She had to walk home and confess (imagine the conversation...), and father had to then drive 14 miles to Bury to pick up the second set of keys, drive back, and then open the door of the car. Hilarious!

Tonight's tipple is an organic Italian red from a producer called Organico (www.organi.co.uk). It's Dominico Colli della Toscano Centrale Rosso 2004, and it's one of their own-brand wines that is priced at £6.35. I like it: it's fresh, earthy, spicy and very savoury. Really bretty, but it works quite well as a rustic, bright food-friendly red. It tastes nice and works with food, and I'd rather have this than a soulless fruit-driven brand, even though it is technically a rather faulty wine. There's a time and a place for savoury, bretty, relatively inexpensive reds, don't you think?

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Eeepc on the road, and a tea tasting

Yesterday afternoon I learned a great deal about a subject I'd previously been woefully ignorant of: tea. It was the Circle of Wine Writers/Guild of Food Writers tea tasting, held in association with specialist tea importers Jing (http://www.jingtea.com/). It's a huge subject - I felt like a wine novice must feel at a wine tasting, and came away with the impression that this is a really interesting but rather daunting subject.

Now for the promised eeepc update. For the last 10 days I've been on the road with just my eeepc. I was slightly nervous about the decision to leave my laptop at home and rely just on this tiny notebook device, but it has served me well. For picking up emails, surfing and posting blog entries it has been perfect. You get used to the small keyboard (any smaller would be unusable) and tiny screen (which has great resolution even though it is small) fairly quickly. Its portability is a great asset, as is its fast boot-up time and easy connectivity by Wifi and LAN (bizarrely, the Iberia VIP lounge doesn't have wireless).

What I haven't used this machine for is image editing or updating the main wineanorak site, largely because I haven't had time to learn how to install the relevant open-source software. The fact that the eeepc has an SD card slot means that photos can rapidly be uploaded even if you haven't got time to download them all from your digital camera. I also haven't been able to do any video editing on the road.

In conclusion, the portability of the eeepc makes it a great choice for a travel computer, and it will take the place of a full-sized laptop for my travels in the future. At just over £200 it is a total bargain.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Two from Meerlust

Switching the focus of this blog away from Chile to South Africa - perhaps its closest competitor in the UK marketplace - I'm drinking two rather good wines tonight from the same producer. They share a family resemblance.

Meerlust Merlot 2004 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is quite an elegant red, even though it has a bit of a traditional feel to it. The nose is distinctly spicy, with the sort of greenness that manifests as a rich, minerally, gravelly quality, and meshes well with the warm, ripe red fruits. The palate has some tannic structure and a bit of a drying finish, but there's enough flesh here to make the whole experience a pleasant, rather seamless one. I hope this all doesn't sound a bit off-putting, because this is actually a really well balanced, concentrated, complex red wine, albeit in quite a traditional style where fruit isn't the dominant feature. Because it's seen quite a bit of oxygen during its elevage, it should age well for a decade or more. 90/100 (£17.99, imported by MMD Ltd)

Meerlust Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Lovely aromatic nose is old fashioned South African in style, but not rustic. It has smooth cedary, gravelly, spicy notes combining with warm red/black fruits. It's not too fruity, and there's a bit of smoke and tar. The palate is warm and spicy with some earthy notes. Well balanced, this works really well. Not a fruit-driven wine, but there is some blackcurranty richness. Structure for development here: this could happily be cellared for a decade. 91/100 (£18.99, imported by MMD Ltd)

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No Glenfiddich Awards in 2008

Just heard this morning via a letter from Sally Gordon that there will be no Glenfiddich Awards in 2008. The celebrated awards, known as the 'Oscars of the food and drink world', have a history dating back 30 years, but they will be taking a break this year while options are being considered for the future. It's a shame - they've been a useful source of additional income over the last two years!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Video: Santiago Fish Market

I've just started processing the video footage I shot in Chile. First up is a report from Santiago's fish market, which finishes with the meal we had in the market, including the famous picoroco - enormous barnacles that I've never come across before.

Post-trip thoughts on Chilean wines

I'm back in London, and I've just posted the full results from the wines of Chile awards on the main site (www.wineanorak.com). Some fairly quick, rough and ready, post-trip thoughts on Chilean wine:

  1. Chile is improving, and quite fast. Particularly encouraging is the reduced tendency for red wines to show excessive greenness, which in the past has been a real problem, at least from my perspective.
  2. It's really good to see the emergence of mid-priced wines (£12-15) that justify these sorts of prices. I can think of half a dozen wines that I've tasted on this trip that are in this price range and which I'm going to go out and buy.
  3. Despite this, Chile remains largely a source of cheap wines that offer good value for money but which all taste similar. In judging the awards we had to wade through scores of similarly priced, similar-tasting reds – Merlots, Cabernets, Carmeneres and red blends. The average bottle price of Chilean wine in the UK is £3.98, which is bang on the average bottle price of all wine sold in the UK.
  4. Greenness does remain an issue in reds. Particularly common are wines with a strong blackcurrant pastille flavour, with bright fruit countered by some greenness. The fact that this is less of an issue than it used to be is encouraging, but there's still progress to be made. It makes Chilean reds quite easy to spot blind.
  5. Sauvignon Blanc is a big success story. I'm finding lots of really well made, enjoyable Sauvignons, but I'm not finding many stand-outs. There was only one Sauvignon that got a gold in the awards this year; you might have expected more. Some of the Leyda Sauvignons are interesting, with their high acidity, but they frequently veer off into overt greenness, with strong methoxypyrazine character. It's early days yet, I guess.
  6. Very interesting results are being achieved with Carignan, Syrah and Malbec where these are planted in the right places. Petit Verdot is also working well as a blending component. As well as new varieties, new regions are showing real promise, most notably Elqui, the source of some really interesting Syrahs, among others.
  7. Chilean wines are usually made by big companies, with large vineyard holdings. I reckon we'll soon start to see the emergence of boutique wineries operating on a small scale, making interesting mid and high priced wines. This will add momentum to the industry.
    It's encouraging to see so many of the large companies doing good work. Expect to see a rise in average quality, particularly in the £5-10 range, in the near future.
  8. Chile is a warm climate region, and most of the wines it makes will be in a forward, modern, ripe style. There will be a move towards planting more mediterranean grape varieties in coming years, just as there has been in South Africa. Shiraz is going to be big here.
  9. I quite like Carmenere where it is being taken seriously and allowed to ripen fully. It makes dark wines with a lovely textural quality and smooth tannins, but because of the high pH of properly ripened Carmenere, brettanomyces is always a risk.
  10. It's early days yet. Let's give Chilean winegrowers time to experiment and press forward with quality. The Chilean wine scene hasn't yet 'arrived'. The hunt is on for the very best sites, and this will take time.
  11. Icon wines are a bit silly. They're commonly big, with obvious ripe, sweet fruit flavour profiles, bolstered with lots of new oak, and sold in overly heavy bottles for far too much money. I don't think this is the direction that Chile should be going, even if there is currently a market for such monstrosities. Chile needs to build a reputation for complex, balanced, interest-filled wines in the mid-price bracket before it tries to outdo the old world classics.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Chile: the last day

So, the last day in Chile for John and I, as we leave our 'family' group to return to the UK winter. We had two visits before hitting the airport: Odfjell and Undurraga. Odfjell is a Norweigan-owned producer making almost exclusively red wines, including some fantastic Carignans. They pioneered Carignan in Chile, and we tried a vertical of 2001-2006 with their French winemaker, who was very candid (the first vintage had a big brett problem). I liked the wines a lot, but preferred the regular Carignan to the top one, which was trying a bit too hard.

Second visit was Undurraga, another traditonal producer that has recently undergone big changes. The wines are starting to turn around, and there is no lack of ambition at this estate, which last year acquired 450 hectares of vineyards to complement their existing 950 ha, and who have pulled out of the sub-£5 market altogether. We had lunch in their beautiful gardens (pictured). I'm now in the lounge at Santiago airport drinking the house fizz (Henriot) which is very nice indeed. My next post will be from the UK. It has been a fun trip.

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Chile: the devil's cellar and other stories

Another day of visits began with Concha y Toro, Chile's biggest producer. It started off badly: we were given the standard tour, aimed at consumers who didn't know a great deal of wine. There was a film, a look at the parklands and old house, and a visit to a tasting station in the courtyard where we were poured a 2005 Sauvignon Blanc. Someone realized this wasn't right, so we were moved to the vineyard, where our valiant tour guide began explaining that this was one of the world's top 25 vineyards for Cabernet Sauvignon, and that by using a special irrigation program the quality was enhanced. When someone asked about this irrigation program, they were told it was a secret. Then we visited the barrel cellar where the difference between French and American oak was explained, among other gems. Best of all was the Casillero del Diablo: the story goes that the locals were nipping into the cellar to pinch Don Melchor's best bottles. So he told them that the devil lived in the cellar, they believed it, and Don Melchor's wine was safe.

Anyway, the visit was saved by the tasting, hosted by Max, one of the winemakers, who is officially alright in my book because he had a copy of my wine science book. The wines are of consistently good quality, with the new Maycas del Limari wines being the highlight: these are brilliant.

We finished at Concha and headed back into the city to visit Santa Carolina, a producer that has seen a bit of a shake-up over the last few years. Their headquarters, with its historic buildings and cellars (pitured) used to be in the middle of a vineyard, but being so close to the city centre, the vines have long since been buried in new developments. We lunched there after an extensive tasting of the Santa Carolina and Vina Casablanca wines. Final stop of the day was Anakena in Cachapoal, a winery who we'd awarded two trophies to at the WOC awards. Their wines are modern, quite sleek, and have some personality.

For John Hoskins and I, this is our last night in Chile. Tomorrow we visit Odjfell and Undarraga, before catching our flight. It's been a very interesting trip, but while I'm not looking forward to London weather, it will be good to be home.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chile: winery visits, biodynamics and another helicopter ride

Last night's dinner was the launch of Vina San Pedro's 1865 brand, held at the wonderful new Mestizo restaurant we'd been to earlier in the week. It was an enjoyable evening, with good food and some nice wines. I particularly liked their Carmenere. But it ended up being another late night.

This morning we set off at 0830 for the Casablanca Valley, and a few really special appointments. Having come on this trip sceptical about Chile's performance at the top end, today I found some wines that you could pitch against the best of the new world, sure that they'd hold their own. I'm not saying that Chile now has an abundance of world class wines like this, but that they now have some is a certain sign of progress.

First stop was Loma Larga (translates as 'Long Hill'), an enormous property (700 hectares) of which around 150 hectares are under vine. Owned by the Diaz family, most of the vineyard area grows grapes for selling to leading wine companies (which is highly profitable), but 50 or so hectares are used to make the Loma Larga wines. Reds are the speciality here, which is unusual for Casablanca. We tried some great Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, as well as a lovely Syrah. Deeply impressive. The winery (seen from above, above) is beautiful, with vines growing on the first third or so of the roof, which blends elegantly into the ground.

Three of us were lucky enough to be given a helicopter ride (this winery has its own chopper!) to our next visit, which gave us great views of the Casablanca Valley. (Top picture.)

Matetic was the next stop. It's another large, family-owned venture. This time the property is really huge, at 16 000 hectares, but just 120 of these are planted to vines. The estate, established in 1999, is run biodynamically, although it hasn't yet achieved certification. The wines are thrillingly good, with the Syrah and Malbec/Merlot being the stand-outs for me. The winery building is stunning, too. I was excited by this visit.

Finally, we visited Casas del Bosque. Once again, it's a big property (1000 hectares), owned by an Italian family, with 250 hectares under vine. We tried a range of tank and barrel samples, including an experimental Pinot Noir that was decidedly European in flavour profile, and four different clones of Syrah.
Syrah and Pinot Noir are getting a lot of attention in Chile at the moment, it seems, and I think it's a good thing.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Gala dinner, a late night, and Vinedo Chadwick

So little time to blog, and so much to say... Last night's gala dinner for the Wines of Chile Awards was an impressive event, held in a lovely setting (an old, grand house in Santiago). There was a really great band, a Chilean TV/movie star hosting, and lots of dancing. Then a few of us went off with a crazy winemaker to a techno club. The music was 'alternative': very repetitive and mesmeric - best with drugs, I suspect [which I refused]. I got to bed at 3.30 am. If I get a chance, I'll post the results, which I feel a degree of responsibility for, along with my fellow judges. They caused quite a stir in some circles.

Today we were at Vinedo Chadwick all day, hosted by Eduardo Chadwick. This is a vineyard he planted on his dad's polo field at the family home in what is now virtually the Santiago suburbs in the Alto Maipo. We lunched well, tasting the famous wines that won the now famous Berlin tastings. More on this later. The 2000 Vinedo Chadwick is a lovely wine, better in my view than the 2001 Sena by some distance. I really, really liked the Errazuriz Kai 2005, a new 'icon' Carmenere that Eduardo is launching. Overall, the standard of the wines here is pretty high.

Pictured: the Chadwick vineyard.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

More from Chile: trophies and a seminar

It's been a busy couple of days, but I've still managed to squeeze some pool time in. It's hard to describe how good it feels to plunge into a beautiful swimming pool in bright sunlight and 30 degree temperatures when you have come from London in January.

Yesterday was the final day of judging. Each team had 20 or so wines to taste, and then we retasted all the golds (12 in all, down from 30 odd last year - judged by Americans - and 20-ish in previous years) to decide which would get the trophies (one per category where there was a gold) and then which single wine would win best of show.

It was a surprisingly painless process: the wines that had won gold medals were all excellent, and after some discussion we had our decision. As an aside, it has been a real privilege working with this team of tasters, who are all excellent. Yet despite the fact that all are experienced and have good palates, it's amazing how opinions can be spread on the same wines. I think this is only natural. Although there is a degree of objectivity in wine tasting, there are also distinct palate preferences. The only way to overcome these differences in a judging session is to make sure that all the judges are reasonable human beings who can discuss and learn from each other, and then come to a consensus.

Last night's dinner was a special one, held at the Guillermo Rodriquez Workshop. He's Chile's best chef, and the food was stunningly good: traditional Chilean reinterpreted for today. Many, many wines were served, and I had a nice chat with one of my dinner companions, Hector Vergara, Chile's top sommelier. I took notes on all the wines, and drank at least a bit of each, which meant I was tired this morning when I woke early to write my talk.

The talk was for a seminar in which each of the nine UK judges gave a 15 minute presentation, preceded by an excellent state of the nation address by Michael Cox (pictured), who runs the wines of Chile UK operation. Chile is doing very well indeed in the UK marketplace. My talk was titled 'natural wine: the role of technology', which sounds kind of ambiguous. But it went quite well, even though I had to prepare a powerpoint presentation on the tiny screen of my eeepc.

Now I must go: it's the gala dinner tonight, which promises to be a late one, with dancing and all (not that I intend to participate). More tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chile day 4 - more tasting

Today was the second full day of tasting at the wines of Chile awards. We were down to eight judges, because unfortunately Sarah Ahmed had been stricken with a nasty illness, and was unable to continue. We were reassured that it had nothing to do with her scores on the first day.

But before I say more about the judging, a word on restaurants. Last night we went to Akarana, which is opposite the Ritz Carlton, and presumably relies on American visitors for a good portion of its trade (signs on the outside were in English). It was really buzzy, and the food was pretty good. Recommended. Tonight we went to Mestizo, which is a stunningly situated restaurant in the Vitacura region of the city, which has only been open for a few days (they don't have their license for alcohol yet). The food - modern Chilean - scored 9/10. It was brilliant. The service mustered only 2/10, though - chaotic, unfocused and unprofessional. If they cure that, this will be a great restaurant, because the setting and the kitchen are pretty much perfect.

Tasting today was quite tough work. Working in our groups of three, we awarded quite a lot of medals - the standard was consistently quite high. But gold medals were hard to come by. The wines we have tasted at dinner over the last few days have shown that Chilean wine has come a long way in a relatively short time. But in our tastings, few wines really stood out as being really exceptional. It's quite hard as judges to have to say this: it would be much easier to give lots of golds and keep everyone happy. But we have to do our job as professional tasters and give an honest opinion of the wines that are in front of us.

Don't get me wrong, though: overall, I'm getting a favourable impression of Chilean wine through our tasting and drinking this week.

Story of the day was Joanna Simon's experience at breakfast this morning. Seeking butter to go with her roll, she asked for 'burro', which led to bemusement on the part of the waitstaff. Now I'm very tired (more tennis and swimming after work), and it's past midnight, so I shall go.
[Pictured is John Hoskins, Jo Simon and Julia Harding hard at work.]

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Chile day 3 - tasting in earnest

Today was work. But it was enjoyable work. We (the nine tasters) had a quick briefing from Luz, who was organizing the tasting, and we were then given a wine to benchmark our palates with. It was an oaked Chardonnay. John Hoskins and I thought it was bronze medal quality – well made, and quite enjoyable, but Julia Harding, Beverley Blanning (whose badge was hilariously mispelled as Beperly Planning) and Margaret Rand thought it was vile. Things weren't looking good.

The teams were each three strong, with the chairs alternating each session, so that we shared the job around. I started off with Julia Harding and John Hoskins, both MWs and good tasters. We worked well as a team, but there were some interesting variations in preferences. It was fun to retaste all the wines – our morning shift was Sauvignon Blanc – together, after we'd already tasted them individually. You get some good insights from tasting alongside others.

We tried three flights of 11 Sauvignons, and the overall quality was pretty good. We dished out quite a few bronze medals and half a dozen silvers, with one potential gold. I think the other panels were much stricter than us, and gave away fewer medals.

Lunch was a surprisingly leisurely and luxurious affair, although we didn't drink much wine because we wanted to keep our palates sharp. In the afternoon I was with Margaret Rand and Joanna Simon, tasting inexpensive Merlots and more expensive Cabernet Sauvignons. This was quite hard work: we wanted to do a good job, and so we retasted quite a bit. Many bronze medals, but no silvers. As I was pouring the last sample, I realized I was tired when I found myself pouring it directly into the spitoon and not my glass...

Despite the early misgivings, the panels I were on found consensus relatively easily, and it was good fun tasting with them.

But I wasn't finished. I'd asked Luz to keep hold of any bottles deemed faulty by the panels, and she did this. Of the 205 wines we tasted altogether, seven had been deemed faulty. There were just three cork-tainted bottles (Cork taint was assumed, but of course we are actually talking about musty taint, which is almost certainly cork-derived, but we can't be sure). For two of these musty bottles, the back-ups were musty also, and both wines came from the same winery. Three other bottles had undefined faults: I reckoned two were bretty, and one was reduced. But they weren't disastrously faulty. The line-up of faulty bottles is pictured.

When we got back to the hotel there was time for a game of tennis with John and Beverley, and then a swim in the fabulous hotel pool. I'm soon off out for dinner with the others. Tomorrow we taste again, and I'm looking forward to it.


Some more pics

Thought I'd add some more pics from today's helicopter antics...

The new Sena vineyards in Acongagua (above)

Casablanca Valley (above)


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Helicopters, mountains and the sea

I'm tired after a remarkable day. We left early to get to a small airfield where there were two helicopters waiting for us. After a short delay where we each had to declare our weight in kilos in a most public fashion, we were each assigned to one of the two rather brightly decorated machines.

This was only my second helicopter flight, and I was looking forward to it. Taking off we headed east towards the Andes, following the Maipo valley. Gradually, the hills became big hills, which became mountains. It was spectacular, brutal and rugged. The other helicopter could sometimes be seen ahead of us. Quite dramatic.

We passed a glacier and a lake, and eventually landed beside a mountain refuge, where we breakfasted. It was a stunning setting, some 2000 metres high but surrounded by much bigger peaks. There was a purity to the air.

Next stop was the coast: our flight took us towards San Antonio, from where we turned northwards through the Leyda and Casablanca valleys, and then along the coast to Zapallar. We landed in a football field to a crowd of curious locals, who must have been surprised to find out we weren't celebs or super-rich, but a scruffy bunch of winos.

The restaurant we ate in was in a stunning setting, surrounded on three sides by the sea. Apparently you have to arrive at 1130 to get a table for lunch on Sunday; we sauntered in at 1400 and our table was waiting, the subject of envious glances from perhaps two dozen people waiting to be seated around the periphery of the restaurant. The food was good, but the array of Chilean wines we tried was better, with perhaps 9 whites and 4 reds, all of which had some real interest. I took notes!

The clouds were coming in from the sea, so at 4 pm word came from the pilots that we might have to leave soon. This meant that if anyone wanted to swim, they had to move quickly. Five of us braved the freezing Humboldt-current-cooled Pacific and the large breakers – it was really, really cold, and the draw on the waves was powerful. But I was glad I went in.

Then it was back in the chopper for a 40 minute ride across country to Santiago. Seeing this part of Chile from the air is really interesting, and it was a totally enjoyable day. I'm exhausted, and trying to summon up the energy to go out and find some beer. Work begins in the morning...


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chile day 1 - some r&r

Arrived in Santiago this morning at 10 am, after a comfortable flight with LAN from Madrid. Most of the judging team were travelling together, and the seven of us had a jolly time in the business class lounge at Madrid where there was a range of wines in a tasting cabinet to keep us entertained.

We got off the plane to encounter temperatures in the late 20s and a blazing sun set in an azure sky. The hotel, the Grand Hyatt, is stunning and luxurious (the view from where I'm sitting in the lobby is pictured above; the reason I'm in the lobby is because this is the only place that has wireless internet in the entire hotel). There was time for a swim in the pool, and then we headed off to the Santiago fish market, which is quite wonderful. We lunched at a fish restaurant there, where I had some enormous barnacles that only a few were prepared to try - they looked pretty gross but tasted nice.

An afternoon swim was followed by a quick shopping trip, and soon it will be time for some tea - we're going to a local restaurant where we'll meet some wines of Chile people. Tomorrow promises to be fun - a helicopter trip over the Andes is included in the agenda!


Friday, January 11, 2008

Two hits: Austria and Champagne

Two real hits last night, my last in the UK for a while - I'm making this entry from the business class lounge of Iberia en route to Santiago. It's quite nice being able to use an airline lounge because I normally fly economy. Anyway, these wines were just great - a fantastic full flavoured Champagne and a delicious Austrian sweetie.

Champagne Jean Moutardier Cuvée Selection NV
Quite deep coloured, this is a 50:50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It’s a serious Champagne. The intense, toasty nose has a fine herby edge and hints of toffee. The palate has rich toast and brioche notes, along with a bit of nuttiness and some citrus freshness. Great depth and intensity: a full flavoured style that is just delicious. Brilliant stuff. 92/100 (£19.95 Great Western Wine)

Herbert Triebaumer Ruster Ausbruch 2002 Burgenland, Austria Yellow/gold in colour, this is a rich, almost pungent sweet wine with lifted aromas of cantaloupe melon and apricot, alongside spicy and herbal notes. The palate is viscous (163 g/litre residual sugar) with bold, concentrated flavours of ripe apricot, citrus and melon, together with some spicy complexity. It’s a serious wine of real class and intensity that just manages to stay balanced despite the immense sweetness. 93/100 (£21.95 Great Western Wine)

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Three Yalumba whites

Following on from the recent Pewsey Vale Riesling review, three more wines from Yalumba, whose offerings I usually like quite a bit.

Yalumba Y Series Sauvignon Blanc 2007 South Australia
Fresh, pure, bright nose with subtly green herbal fruit. The palate is crisp and tight with nettley, herby fruit and a rounded, fruity finish. Quite a stylish effort that’s modern and commercial, but not too in-yer-face. Only 11% alcohol. 86/100

Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2007 South Australia
This is fresh, bright and fruity, with a crisp limey edge to the generous, slightly herb-tinged fruit. There’s a nice richness to the fruit here: it isn’t as bone dry tasting as some Aussie Rieslings, but I don’t think there’s much residual sugar – rather, the richness comes from some ripe fruit which adds a tropical edge to the limey zestiness. 87/100

Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2007 South Australia
This is crisp and fresh, but with some nutty richness, too. But I’m not really sure about it. There’s a bit of a minerally reductive note on the nose and the palate seems a little hollow, finishing with some bitterness. I guess it’s OK, but I don’t enjoy it all that much. 80/100

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More on the eeeeeeeepc

Sorry for the non-wine-related digression. Seriously considering taking the eeepc as my sole computer on my next trip (leave on Friday for Chile).

Peter wanted to know how big it is, so here's a picture showing some scale, with a standard laptop, an SLR camera, a phone and a CD in shot. The eeepc is the white machine sitting on top of the laptop, just in case you were confused.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Philosophy, wine and an old pub

Had lunch today with Ole Martin Skilleas, a Norweigan academic philosopher who is currently writing a book on wine and philosophy with a colleague of his, Douglas Burnham. We didn't go anywhere grand - just round the corner to the Dover Castle, a pub like they used to be 20 years ago before they all went gastropub and started charging restaurant prices - but we did have an interesting discussion about the philosophy of wine tasting, over a pint of beer.

I learned a lot from Ole, and among the insights he offered was an interesting take on how we taste. 'Wine is a vague object', Ole told me, ' and we bring conceptual knowledge to it. We try to fit it with a template'. What he means (I think) is that the senses of smell and taste are rather imprecise, so wine is vague, and to say much about it we need to bring something to the tasting experience, namely our experience and understanding. When we know what it is we are drinking we are then able to say much more about it. 'We know what to look for in a great wine', he continued. 'If you don't know what to look for you don't notice the qualities that made this a great wine'.

He illustrated this with an experience of blind tasting, which he regards as an extreme version of what happens in most tastings. With his tasting group, which includes wine critics and enthusiasts with excellent knowledge of wine, he lined up three wines blind, with a common theme: a 1999 Chablis 1er Cru, a 1999 Village Meursault and a 1999 Macon. At an early stage in deliberations a senior member of the group said, 'At first I thought the theme was Chardonnay, but I don't think it is.' No one went on to guess Chardonnay: the members of the group just put the Chardonnay template away. 'The qualities of the wines, once they were revealed, were so obvious', recalls Ole, 'it was staring people in the face'.

Coincidentally, when I got home Fiona had poured a mystery glass of wine for me to taste blind. I was thinking about this template business: this is what makes tasting blind so difficult, I reckon. I spotted it as a Sauvignon, but could get no further. It was cleanly made and modern, but it could have been from the Loire or the New World. Turned out it was from Yalumba in South Australia.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chicken run, a museum Riesling and a fairtrade Shiraz

Three rather different elements are thrown into the pot to create tonight's blogpost.

First, an aside - this blog has a google page rank of 6, while the main site index page has a page rank of 5. That's a bit odd. Am I spending too much time blogging?

The first element is some telly. It's not often that I sit down in front of the TV - even though the last two nights have seen Fiona and I get through four episodes of the West Wing (we're on series 3) - but tonight I watched the second program of Hugh's chicken run on C4.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a mission to wean the nation off intensively reared chickens. But denied access to film in the 'battery farms', he creates two scaled down chicken farms of his own in adjacent sheds, one free range and one intensive. I enjoyed the program, and I'm highly sympathetic to its aims: I believe we have a strong moral duty to treat with kindness the animals we are going to eat.

But I think this program may backfire, in part because of the honest intent shown by the program makers. Because I'd expected battery farming to look a lot worse than the vision of it presented by Hugh.

My preconceptions: I had thought the chickens were kept in small cages, and had their beaks clipped to prevent them from pecking holes in their neighbours, and that many of them died and were left to rot in situ. Instead, they are just kind of crowded and never see the sunlight, and the weak or sick are removed and sacrificed. It's not pretty, but it's better than I had anticipated.

The emotional bit in the program is when Hugh breaks down in tears because he has to finish off two sick birds in the same day. Look, I would hate to have to kill a chicken. But this is the man who raises pet pigs for the pot. I thought he was made of sterner stuff.

Still, despite the criticisms, I'll continue buying free range chickens (which are reared the same way, but in less dense situations, with bales of hay, plastic footballs, suspended CDs and access to an outdoor area). But the program makers are spinning this one out a bit with lots of shots of Hugh in his red Land Rover and various contrived reality TV moments. Hugh is very good on camera, though.

The second element is a really nice Riesling.

Pewsey Vale 'The Contours' Museum Release Riesling 2001 Eden Valley, Australia
Intense, fresh, limey nose with a pronounced spicy quality, and a bit of honey and toast. The palate is bone dry and piercing with high acidity, a lemony zing and an attractive freshness. It's quite complex and not too petrolly, with a delicious, precise 'nervous' sort of quality. Not heavy or phenolic. 91/100 (RRP - £10.99 Stockists: Berry Bros & Rudd, Selfridges & Co, Australian Wines Online, Premier Vintners, Free Run Juice, Averys of Bristol, Layton Wine Merchants, The Wineman)

The third is a delicious, affordable, quaffable Chilean Shiraz.

Marks & Spencer Fairtrade Shiraz 2007 Curico Valley, Chile
From Vinos Los Robles, this is really appealing. It's vibrant, juicy and aromatic, showing red and black fruits with a nice spiciness, and a savoury twist. It's fresh and quite pure, and lacks that off-putting rubbery greenness that some Chilean reds show. This isn't a wine to beat you around the head: it's really nicely balanced. Savoury finish. 85/100 (£5.49 Marks & Spencer)

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My new toy, the eeepc

I have a new toy: it's the Asus EeePC, which I've mentioned here before.

It's a tiny laptop the size of a paperback novel. It runs linux, has 4 gb solid state memory (no hard disk) and a 7” screen. It comes with most of the software you might need (open office applications, etc). It has 512 mb of RAM, three USB ports and looks beautiful. The keyboard, however, will take a while to get used to – at the moment my typing is a little slower than normal. I'll let you know how I get on with it.

I should add that this isn't intended to be a straight replacement for my laptop or desktop – rather, it complements it as a special occasion machine that I'll use where portability is an issue. To be honest, I'm growing a little tired of lugging a big bag with a laptop in it around with me, and I’m hoping that I’ll grow comfortable enough with this little machine that it will fulfil most of my portable computing needs.

One thing that will take a little bit of getting used to is the size of the screen, which is quite tiny. This makes working on images or anything that requires a good-sized screen very difficult. It will also take a little time to get used to linux: you can't just install programs with a few clicks like you can with Windows XP. For now, linux still seems to require a techie bent if you are to do anything serious with it.

Is the eepc a compulsory purchase? Too soon to tell. But I forgot to mention perhaps the best bit about it, which is the price. A shade over £200. [I got mine from ebuyer.com.]


Monday, January 07, 2008

Elegant Italian and Saumur revisited

Two wines tonight, one of which I've mentioned on here before - the Les Nivieres Saumur 2005 from Waitrose (£4.99) is a lovely wine - essence of Cabernet Franc. It's edgy and a bit green, and I probably scored it a little to highly last time, but I really enjoy it, while acknowledging that Loire Cabernet Franc may not be everyone's cup of tea. I think the sappy, mineralic greenness complements the fruit really well. Tannins are very grippy, which makes this a food wine. But it's an antidote to new world sweetness, and at this price it's hard to beat. It just makes the branded competition look a bit daft.

The second wine is another Les Caves wine (for which I make no apologies), and it's supremely elegant and alive. I can't believe this is Sangiovese. Decanted (I'm using my decanters a lot now) it opens out beautifully with a bit of air. This wine isn't expensive, and it makes some of the Burgundy 2006 prices look a bit silly.
Il Paradiso di Manfredi 2005 Rosso di Montalcino, Italy
From a small estate that practices many biodynamic principles, this Sangiovese is thrillingly alive and elegant. The aromatic nose shows dark cherries with purity and freshness allied with a bit of earthiness. The palate is quite complex with some earthy spiciness undeneath the sweet, pure dark cherry and blackberry fruit. There's a lovely smooth, elegant texture here, that's somewhere between silk and velvet. There's also a hint of forest floor. Finishes quite savoury. A supremely drinkable wine that's hard to resist. It tastes really natural (in a good way). 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

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Burgundy 2006 with cheese

This week sees the 2006 Burgundy en primeur tastings in London. There are a lot of them – I've been invited to at least eight, and there are others, too. I'm not sure whether there's a lot to be gained from spending a whole week of my life tasting barrel samples from just one vintage...it's not that I'm widely regarded as an expert on the region's wines, after all. I reckon that I can spot decent Burgundy when I see it, but I don’t have the breadth of experience to be able to give ‘expert’ buying advice across the appellations.

Indeed, such is the complexity of Burgundy, with its terroir-based patchwork quilt of vineyards that are shared among many growers (in most cases), if you want to be a real Burgundy expert you have to devote most of your working life to this region.

So what about the 2006s? I went along this afternoon to the Berry Bros & Rudd tasting in the splendid setting of One Great George Street, near Westminster Abbey. I didn't spend an awful lot of time tasting, so I can't really give the definitive answer on the vintage. But I did have a nice time catching up with colleagues (I spoke with Joanna Simon, Tim Atkin, Charles Metcalfe, Victoria Moore, Neil Beckett, Anthony Rose, Natasha Hughes, Jane MacQuitty and Jasper Morris among others). It was also nice to bump into Francis Percival, the food writer, who was there to demonstrate a couple of Neals Yard cheeses for the private customers who were soon to arrive (pictured). I tried a Berkswell, which was made with late lactation milk and is therefore a bit funky because of the high solids, and a really lovely Montgomery Cheddar that was complex, spicy and delicious.

Jasper's take on the 2006 vintage seems a fair one. ‘It’s totally different to 2005, which was a truly great year’, he began. ‘This was a nice year, producing some stylish wines that show perfume and which taste like Pinot Noir and Burgundy.’ He anticipated that customers would taste through the wines and find many that they liked. ‘There is variation here’, Jasper cautions. In terms of pricing, the reds are stable or down and the whites stable or up from the previous year, ‘but Burgundy doesn’t move a lot’, he said.

The wines I tried were exclusively red, and were at the light end of the spectrum. Some were showing firm tannins. They seemed a bit expensive, on the whole. It was really nice to have a chance to chat to newcomer David Clark, a Scot who has recently established himself as a Burgundy grower with 2 hectares of vines in relatively lowly appellations, which he’s farming with meticulous care, producing some really nice wines. More on him later.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

You can stick your bubbles...

So my chum Rob and I took our kids to Upton Park yesterday to see Man City take on West Ham. It's the first time I've followed City to Upton Park, and as I expected, it's a bit of a grim place, in the wilds of East London. Inside the stadium is OK, but outside is pretty depressing.

The game finished 0-0, but the atmosphere in the City end was lively, and the football was open and attractive for most of the 90 minutes. Hart, the City goalkeeper (England's future no. 1), was immense, as were defenders Richard Dunne and Michael Ball (I reckon he would be worth another go in England's problem left back spot). In the midfield, Hamman and Corluka both impressed, but we missed the invention of Elano, with only Petrov providing real attacking menace.

[There's a really balanced report here.]

The kids were a little taken aback by the volume (and lyrical content) of the singing in the City end. As an example, the West Hammers fans tried to sing their anthem 'We're forever blowing bubbles', the City response was, 'You can shove your ******* bubbles up your ****', just a whole lot louder and more convincingly. Still, the City fans are a lot more upbeat than they used to be - I remember some grim games (o-1 at Wycombe, anyone? 0-3 against Reading at Elm Park?) where the atmosphere was dark and self-destructive.

Anyway, in the evening we got a babysitter and went round to our friend's Rob and Lucy's for some dinner, joined by Emma and David, also good chums. We had nice food, accompanied by couple of wines that Rob had bought from Hampton Hill wine merchant Noble Green - a Loire Sauvignon and Spanish red, the names of which I can't remember, but were good enough that I think I should check this shop out.

We ended the evening playing on Rob's Wii, which is great. Fiona and I stayed long enough to play tennis and Guitar hero, but had to leave before the boxing. It's a great toy.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Savennieres and others on a Friday night

Some good friends came round tonight to celebrate one of their birthdays. It was a really nice evening.

Of late, I'm becoming acutely aware that life's richness lies not in things but in people - friends and family. So it's nice that we've been able to entertain a bit over the holiday season. In the last few days we've also had a very enjoyable visit from Fiona's sister and her family, who were visiting London from Devon. This was particularly successful because their two oldest kids are teenagers and our boys relate really well to them.

But back to wine. I've been enjoying a Loire Chenin over the last few days. Domaine du Closel 'La Jalousie' Savvenieres 2005 is reasonably serious, with complex notes of straw, herbs, honey and a bit of cheesiness. There's really high acidity, too, which keeps it fresh. At 14% alcohol, this isn't a shy wine, but it works really well with food, and in particular hard cheese. It's the sort of wine that will continue to evolve over many years. But we also had some other wines with dinner:

Leo de la Gaffeliere 2004 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux
This is one of those wines that needs to be decanted, because initially it's a bit tight, savoury and dumb. A few hours after opening it's showing perfumed, leafy, sappy red fruits with an attractive palate that combines a savoury spiciness with some leafy, earthy tannins. A digestible, attractive claret with the potential for mid-term ageing. 87/100

Cosme Palacio Cosecha 2005 Rioja, Spain
A very attractive modern-styled Rioja, which combines ripe dark fruits with a spicy, tarry, woody edge to create a more-ish, rather savoury wine that tastes quite delicious. 88/100

Teusner 'Albert' 2003 Barossa Valley, Australia
An old vine Shiraz, this shows a sweetly fruited aromatic nose with a bit of liqueur-like richness. The palate is sweetly fruited but has a savoury, spicy edge and some firm tannins under the rich, pure fruit. Some alcoholic heat on the finish. Attractive, but not quite pulling together as a whole. Not as good as I'd expected it to be. 89/100

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Predictions for 2008

Those of you who follow both the blog and the main wineanorak site will see that I've put up a list of wine predictions for 2008 (here).

In bullet form they are:
1. More competitive market
2. Belt tightening by consumers
3. Neoprohibitionism on the move
4. Alternative packaging increasing
5. High alcohol takes a beating
6. No more RP for UK retailers
7. Fewer corks
8. Australia struggles; NZ thrives

I also think we'll see a change of government in the UK, that bird flu will cause a global pandemic (get out your Tamiflu and food supplies), and that Man City will nick a champions league spot. On that latter point, you can see City's win last night here. I reckon they should sign Berbatov, Bentley and Mascherano and then they'll be challenging for the title. [Now I'm verging on silliness, I admit it.] Just got my tickets to see West Ham v City on Saturday in the FA Cup - I'm going with my chum Rob, and we're both taking our kids (he has two girls about the same age as our boys). I've not been to Upton Park before - it should be a good game.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Interesting South African Pinot Blanc

I don't think I've ever had a Pinot Blanc from South Africa before, but this is a really good one. It's from pioneering winery Flagstone's BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) project Ses'fikile (see more here and here).

Ses'fikile Folklore Pinot Blanc 2007 Western Cape, South Africa
This is a really interesting white wine made from underrated variety Pinot Blanc, with a little Sauvignon blended in, too. It has a fruity, bright yet creamy nose. The palate is soft with lovely texture and a smooth creamy richness to the pear and white peach fruit. It's broad, moderately aromatic and delicious - quite unlike any south African white I've tasted before. 90/100 (£8 Marks & Spencer)

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