jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Football and spotify

Just rearranged my study. Brought in my amplifier and two speakers, which had been redundant since iPod and Bose Sound Dock arrived. Combined with the wonderful spotify, this means I can work with music, and a wide variety of music, too. So, dear readers, what should I be listening to?

Played 11-a-side football today. We have an occasional team made out of the Wednesday night five/six/seven-a-side group I play with. I started off as sub, but came on after 20 mins to play right midfield. With the game at 0-0, a minute before half-time, the ball broke to me outside the area. I'm not short of self-confidence, so I had a crack at goal. To my amazement, the ball rocketed into the top corner of the goal, from fully 20 yards out, Gerrard style. Awesome. We ended up drawing 2-2, which isn't bad. We got thoroughly beaten by this side last year.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

For those about to rock...

Just back from an awesomely good concert. Took younger son to watch AC/DC in their first gig in the UK for ages and ages (on possibly their last world tour).

It was at the O2 arena - a brilliant venue for watching live music. The sound was really good, which makes a difference at loud gigs like these. And it was loud - not too loud that it hurt (as some gigs I can remember when I was a teenager), but as loud as you'd ever want it.

AC/DC are quite old now, but they put on a cracking show, playing a solid 2 hours. It was just great rock music - simple, but good, with lots of great blues-influenced riffs. As the first album I ever bought was Back in Black, it was quite special to catch them live. Younger son, who is 11, really enjoyed it, too. It helped that we knew all the songs.

They're the ultimate good-time band, and they don't take themselves too seriously. They rock.

Also today: it was the first day of judging at the International Wine Challenge. My team tasted 110 wines, and it was a pleasure to judge with such a nice bunch of people. I really enjoy doing the challenge, in part because the organization is so good, which makes tasting much easier - and also you get treated well - a nice lunch at Searcy's and a Cooper's Pale at the end of the day. More on this tomorrow, when I've finished day 2 of judging.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Caught an interview with the four members of U2 last night on BBC Radio 4 arts programme Front Row (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/frontrow/past_programmes.shtml). As these interviews go, it was a good one. I particularly liked the was the interviewer asked about the way that Larry and Adam (the lower-profile members of the band) felt about Bono travelling round the world meeting presidents, prime ministers and people of power in his campaigns to cancel third world debt and combat AIDS/HIV.

I know that we're all supposed to be cynical about people who try to make a difference, but I'm tremendously impressed by Bono's efforts. I'm also impressed by U2, both musically, and also because they've stuck together for 30 years and haven't done the rock and roll thing of falling out, changing personnel, and crashing and burning at an early age.

The other day I listened to The Joshua Tree again. It has to be their best album? I remember when it came out - it made a huge impact. And listen to the first three songs: I can't think of a stronger opening to an album ever. The Edge's guitar work is economical, innovative and just brilliant. He doesn't use many notes, but listen to the tones he gets, and his clever use of delay (it's this, more than anything, that defines his style).

But one thing puzzles me. What do his friends and family call him? Does he insist on the 'The' being used in conjunction with 'Edge'? And does he let people use nicknames (e.g. 'Edgy mate, what are you drinking?')? When he's being addressed formally, are people supposed to call him 'Mr Edge'?


Friday, February 06, 2009

Back from Stockholm, and BBC 4 rocks

So I returned from Stockholm this afternoon, regretting the fact that I didn't have more time to explore what looks like an interesting City. It's also manageable in size - the sort of place you could begin to get to grips with in a weekend. Pictured above is the view from the Wine and Spirit offices, through sleet and snow.

Only four puppies left here now. Three go tomorrow; the last one, our unofficial favourite (named 'Yellow' by us after its identification tag), goes on Sunday.

Just watching a BBC4 programme on Bob Dylan's performances at the Newport Festival in 1963, 1964, 1965. (See review here and watch it for the next week here). I love this sort of programme. I'm fascinated by the 1960s and 1970s, and, in particular, the way that music has developed. It's so great to be able to see this sort of thing on TV: here are these people witnessing Dylan's emergence, sitting there at a festival, some caring about the music, others just enjoying the atmosphere. These carefree, tanned 20 year olds are now in their mid-60s.
I was born in 1967, and that seems an age ago now. What fascinates me about history is how different things were in the past, but how people haven't really changed at all. And the fact that now we are making tomorrow's history.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The best way to learn about wine

I was thinking today about the best way to learn about wine. I'd travelled down to Devon to see my son (he's boarding at school) and attend a meeting. After the formalities were over we went together to a coffee shop for some hot chocolate, an then popped in to a record shop on the high street.

Now this place is about as far away as you can get from HMV. It is run by someone who's clearly a music enthusiast, and as well as carrying the latest chart items it has a display section of mid-priced classics. I've bought a few things here before, so this time I asked for advice. The shop owner was really helpful, and I came out with Joni Mitchell's Blue. I'm embarassed I don't already know her stuff, but this is a really brilliant album.

There's so much music out there, how do you choose what to listen to? Which new avenues should you explore? What are the 'benchmarks'? It's a similar problem faced by the newbie wine drinker. While modern retail offers amazing selections at amazingly keen prices, it's difficult to know where to start.

A shop, properly run by an enthusiast whose main drive is passion for the product, has to be the best place. If you have a local wine merchant with a good range and staff who care, then that's surely the best way to learn about wine. Of course, I think you should be making good use of critics and writers - and websites like this - but then there's the issue of finding the wines that are being talked about.

If you have a good merchant, use them, and be prepared to pay slightly more for the wine than the cheapest price on wine-searcher. You are getting, in the price of the bottle, the benefit of a relationship that could be your best means of discovering new wines, tailored to your palate and interests. That's got to be worth something.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

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.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 17, 2008

Off to see Angus! - and an added wine quote

One of the great things about having kids is that you can re-live your childhood/adolescence through them. Younger son is currently crazy about music, and his favourite band is AC/DC. It just so happens that the first album I ever bought was Back in Black, back in the 1980s.

Angus and his pals are just embarking on their first world tour for about a thousand years. They're really old (he's 53). But they still rock! In April next year they come to the UK and the tickets for the O2 arena gig went on sale at 10 am this morning. I went online at 10.01, and the public sale tickets seemed to have all gone, but prescient as I am I had joined the fan club a day previously and so, armed with my access code, managed to get a couple of lower tier tickets.

Fiona is happy to let younger son go to the gig, but insists that he wears ear plugs.

Now the tickets are in the bag, I need to go and taste some wine. Berry Bros and Majestic today.

[added later] On the train, reading The Guardian's review of the new AC/DC album, I found the following quote:
'A cynic might say that the kind of person who can distinguish a good AC/DC album from a bad one is like those faintly disturbing wine buffs who can tell you the terroir in which grapes were grown just by holding a glass to the light: it's a specialist skill garnered through a lifetime of extensive research, a considered judgement based on infinitesimal difference, entirely beyond the ken of ordinary mortals. '

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Music affects the perception of wine - a scientific study

An interesting study has been released today showing that music can affect the perception of wine.

Most of us have experience of wines showing differently according to context, but this study actually demonstrates that the style of the music can prime the listener and then alter their perception of a wine being tasted at the same time. The reason this is interesting is because information from one sense (hearing) is affecting another unrelated sense (flavour perception).

The study itself isn't a proper scientific paper, but rather a short publication of the results of a collaboration between Chilean producer Montes and Dr Adrian North, a psychologist working at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. 250 adults from the University were offered a glass of one of four Montes wines in exchange for answering a short set of questions about the experience of this wine. As they were tasting, one of four pieces of music were playing, or as a control, no music was played.

The four wines:

Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2006 - Majestic, Tesco & Morrisons £10.99
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Majestic, Tesco & Morrisons £10.99
Montes Alpha Merlot 2006 - Majedstic & Co-op £10.99
Montes Alpha Syrah 2006 - Waitrose & Tesco £10.99

The four pieces of music:

Powerful and heavy: Carmina Burana – Orff
Subtle and refined: Waltz of the Flowers (from The Nutcracker) – Tchaikovsky
Zingy and refreshing: Just Can’t Get Enough – Nouvelle Vague
Mellow and soft: Slow Breakdown – Michael Brook

The results showed a statistically significant shift in the perception of the wine with music type. The authors concluded that the study "...shows that the music shifted the perception of the wine in the direction of the mood expressed by the music by an average of 37.25%. The mean percentage for the white wine was 32.25% and the mean percentage for the red wine was 42.25%, meaning that the effect of music was stronger on the taste of red wine than on the taste of white wine"

You can read the report here.

Labels: , ,