I love Portugal (2)
Yesterday was appallingly wet. It rained and rained, and then rained some more. There were sheets of rain, and then there was drizzle, and then the clouds were so low they were at street level, and then the sheets of rain started again. So we hopped in the car and drove through Porto, past the impressive, compact FC Porto stadium and out the other side, heading for Guimaraes, the ancient capital of Portugal (above).
Post from the road. I'm in Portugal, this time with my family. As well as visiting solo on several occasions, I've been here with Fiona a couple of times before, but this is the first time we've brought the kids along, and I'm really glad we did. There's something special about this country that I wish my two boys could 'catch' a little of.
I used to be a bit of a Chile sceptic. Since my January visit, though, I've seen plenty of reasons for optimism about Chilean wine. Yes, there's still a bit of a problem with greenness in reds, and a bit more diversity and complexity in the higher-end wines would be welcomed. And I also think the country needs more boutique wineries, pushing the boundaries of quality on a small scale. But there's a dynamism to the current Chilean wine scene that suggests that in five years time, the picture will be a very different one.
Found this very funny clip on YouTube. Would have made the 9 h of DVD or 3 h of theatre production a little more manageable.
Vouvray is wonderful stuff. It's an unusual white wine from the Loire, made from the Chenin Blanc grape, and it can be dry, fizzy, off-dry or sweet (with or without botrytis) - it just depends on the vintage, the vineyard, and the producer. Huet is one of the best producers, and certainly the most famous. A sleb Vouvray, I guess. Here are two very interesting examples.
As I think I've mentioned here before, our boys are adopted. They're brothers, and they have two sisters who are also adopted with another couple. We get together a couple of times a year, home and away, and it's usually good fun.
So I spent the day in the office. When I went freelance I thought I'd be spending a lot of days working from home. It has actually been much busier than I'd envisaged, so I haven't had all that many days when I've not been going out to work elsewhere.
A gentle day in the office is in order tomorrow, after four rather hectic days. The LIWF (London International Wine Fair) has finished. It's an intensely busy time for anyone associated with the wine industry in the UK, and for journalists like me it's a great opportunity to catch up with all the winemakers and principals visiting from around the world - this is perhaps the most significant opportunity the fare presents, rather than simply tasting wines, which we're lucky enough to be able to do a lot of here in London, anyway. Even so, it's best not to look to carefully through the show catalogue because you just come away feeling that you've missed out on so much, rather than being content about the good work you got done.
Labels: natural wine
There was a collective deep intake of breath in the UK wine trade today, as everyone prepared for the London International Wine Fair, which is the big event in the calendar each year, and begins tomorrow (Tuesday). It will be a crazy busy three days, with lots of people in town from around the globe - from a journalist's perspective an embarassment of riches, making it hard to know just who to spend the limited time available with.
Furmint is a grape variety that's relatively new to me. It's the classic variety of Hungary's Tokaji region, where it makes the fabulous sweet Tokaji wines. But it also makes dry wines here, too. By coincidence, I had two Furmints in my sample rack, one from Hungary and one from Slovenia. So I thought I'd try them together. They both show a family resemblence, but also some differences. I was really thrilled by the Slovenian wine, which reminded me of a very good drier style of Gruner Veltliner. The Hungarian Furmint is possibly a little more complex, and also has a hint of Austria about it, but it's perhaps more of an acquired taste.
FA Cup final day. [For the benefit of non-English readers, this is the final of England's main soccer cup competition, which has been going for 120+ years and is rich with history and passion.] This year, we had a final without any of the big four for the first time in ages, but like the Millwall vs. UTD match a few years ago, there was a non-premiership team in the final - this time Cardiff City. The game itself was quite good, with Cardiff showing well and Portsmouth looking decidedly short of ideas. A rather scrappy, but well taken goal by the talented but ungainly Kanu settled it Portsmouth's way. Could have done with a few more goals, and even a sending off to make it truly memorable, though. In Parker points? 86/100.
Just watching the first of the new series of The F Word. On one level, I should hate this: Gordon Ramsay's vulgar, celebrity-obsessed approach combines with a slice of The Generation Game (watching members of the public embarass themselves) to make entertainment that's perfect for for the ADHD generation. But on another level, it's drawing people into food, which somehow manages to stay at the centre of this program. If I'm being honest, I enjoy watching it, and Gordon is brilliant at doing TV. It works. You can watch this and enjoy it even if you have little interest in food, but by watching it you might begin to develop such an interest. This is the food equivalent of Top Gear, which my wife watches even though she has no interest in motors. I wonder if anyone could ever do the same sort of thing with wine?
Had a day working from home today. A bit of a late start, but then some serious work on Brettanomyces, that most complex and interesting of wine 'faults'. Found out that the theme for my next Sunday Express column has been changed at short notice - this goes with the territory. Forgot to do some much-needed invoicing (I'm not the most financially motivated of writers). Walked the dog twice.
I would like to like the Esporão wines more. Let me try to explain what I mean by this.
Just back from Denmark, where I was attending Lallemand's technical conference. Last night, I arrived at Billund airport at 11.30 pm, and was driven 40 km to Horsens, for the Bygholm Park hotel (http://www.scandic-hotels.dk/) where we were meeting.
I'm currently enduring that special part of hell also known as Gatwick South Terminal, en route to Billund in Denmark, where tomorrow I'll be presenting a paper on wine faults at the XXth Entretiens Scientifiques Lallemand. I've never been to Denmark before, and seeing as I'm coming back tomorrow evening, I doubt I'll see much of it. Apparently, Legoland is in Billund.
An interesting study has been released today showing that music can affect the perception of wine.
Always nice to try something different, although I'm anxious not to give excessive coverage to wines that are novel over better wines that aren't (if you see what I mean).
Another short film from my New Zealand trip, which I've just posted on YouTube to accompany the write up that's appeared on the main site today.
Here we see James Millton's compost heap. Composting is an important part of organics and biodynamics. When it's done well, like this, the core of the heap reaches 70 degrees Centigrade, fuelled by microbial activity. That's really hot - too hot for most organisms to survive.
Just back from a tremendous weekend at the Belfry, where I got to play on the Brabazon course. The golf day was organized by New Zealand winery Craggy Range, and Fiona and the kids came too, which was a nice touch.
Just about to fire up the first barbie of the year, as I sit outside and write this blog entry. It will be for a ribeye steak, and to pair with it I have three delicious wines from Margaret River, Western Australia. They're all from Vasse Felix, one of the producers I didn't visit on my trip, this time last year.
Just a brief post to alert readers to two documents that were in my in-box this morning.
What do you come to Bordeaux for? I'd suggest that the primary draw for most people is full-flavoured-yet-elegant, ageworthy, structured red wines offering impeccable balance and moderate alcohol - which you'd hope would develop with age into something complex and compelling.
Was meant to play cricket yesterday, but unfortunately it was called off because of the weather. Probably a good thing: I would have played even though I'm crocked, with a nagging, persistent hamstring injury (that makes it sound like I'm some fit wannabee sporting dude) that just won't go away. I'm a bit of a child when it comes to sport. I love it - it's a beautiful distraction from work and real life.
I've been taking a closer look at affordable Bordeaux from the 2005 vintage. Four more bottles opened tonight and tasted together.