jamie goode's wine blog

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A boy's day out: rugby and beer

Got a good deal yesterday. I was allowed to take my brother-in-law Dave out to watch Quins vs. London Irish at the Stoop (for the benefit of non-sporty types, this is rugby union), while the rest of the extended family went off to Thorpe Park for the day.

We started off with a curry, followed this by some beer in the Barmy Arms, and then wandered up the road to the Stoop for the game. It was a beautifully mild, with late season sunshine, and everyone seemed to be in good humour.

The game itself was a tight affair, with Irish looking much more threatening. 6-6 at half-time, and with a minute to go Quins, who were losing 9-6, got a penalty miles out. They scored it, and the game was drawn 9-9 - which I suppose is the rugby equivalent of 0-0 in football.

A very big family do last night in our place will be followed today by another big lunch. It's hard to know what wine to open for these occasions: the emphasis is on the social aspect, and everyone is having fun - so you don't really want to divert peoples' attention to what they are drinking by talking about it. Best to let the wine have a secondary role, I reckon. We had a delicious Aragonez from Malhadinha Nova (Alentejo), and the remainder of a couple of Conceito (Douro) wines that I had been looking at over a couple of days (both brilliant - more later).

Today I have to drive older son down to school in Devon, and it's a miserable rainy day.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

England hammer France...with some French wine

So I went to the Rugby today. I was a guest of Mont Tauch (http://www.mont-tauch.com/), who shared their hospitality (from the back of an old Citroen van in the Rosebine car park) with ex-Rugby player and wine producer Gerard Bertrand (pictured).

We drank wines from both. Mont Tauch are one of the new breed of super-coops, and were showing a really nice Ancien Carignan among other wines. And I liked the Bertrand Tautavel and La Forge reds a great deal: modern, sweetly fruited, but fresh and well defined. It was very civilized standing in the sunshine, drinking wine with good company.

The game? Incredibly, England were brilliant. France played like England usually do. And by half time, England were 29-0 up. We were sitting in a largely French section, next to the French band, who were silenced by their side's performance. The second half was closer, but by then it was all over.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Belgian food and rugby

One of the advantages of being a freelancer is that you can lunch without feeling guilty about taking time away from your employer.

On Friday I had a very enjoyable lunch in Richmond with a friend. We ate at Brouge (http://www.brouge.co.uk/), a new Belgian restaurant that has two branches, in Twickenham and Richmond. The restaurant was really nicely done, with a good quality high-end gastropup style menu and a wine list from Bibendum (http://www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/).

The real draw here, though, is the extensive selection of Belgian beers, including the up-market Deus. We opted for the lunch deal, which was a main course plus a Belgian beer at 8.95. Great value for money, and recommended.

Today I was at the Rugby, watching England get pasted by South Africa. Despite the result, it was a good occasion, although I ended up having to walk/jog the 4.6 miles to my rendez vous because the trains from Feltham station were all full after a cancellation and some delays. It took me 45 minutes.

England didn't play well, but I think they were made to look bad because South Africa's defence were so impressive. We were surrounded by pissed saffers. The great thing about rugby is that you don't have the same aggressive tribalism that you do in football, and so segregation is not necessary. But with this, I guess you lose a bit of the 'edge' that you get at football matches.

The RFU have to be a bit careful, though. They're charging a lot of money for these games, and so they're trying to make it more of a spectacle. They hired Passionata, who describe themselves as a 'rock opera' group, consisting of five presentable young ladies, to sing before kick off. Their version of the well known bit of Carmina Burana was excruciatingly bad, blending hooked-on-classics with the X-factor. Fortunately, the crowd outsang them for the national anthem.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wine and rugby

Went to the rugby yesterday, courtesy of Pernod Ricard's wine division. Tim Atkin and Oz Clarke were also there (pictured), and we had a very jolly time.

I've not been to see a six nations international at Twickenham before, and it was a great occasion. It may not look much of a stadium from the outside, but inside it is fantastic, and the way the 82 000 fans are packed together creates an excellent atmosphere.

It's hard to explain exactly why, but rugby crowds are very different to football crowds. They don't sing as much, and there's no segregation of fans, but when noise is made it has a deeper, more resonant quality to it. The anthems at the beginning of the game are particularly moving, sung by fans and players alike. I should add that Ireland have a much better anthem than England: ours is a bit sterile and polite; theirs is melodic and heartfealt. I guess the atmosphere thing is also because rugby as a game is much more of a battle. It has a primeval quality: as you see the teams line up at the start, it's fifteen strong men against fifteen strong men. Courage, determination and bravery are needed.

The game itself was a good one, with England putting in a solid performance after a very shaky start. Afterwards, I met up with brother-in-law Cliff who'd come over from Geneva to see the game with his brother-in-law Justin. We went into Twickenham and had a pint at the White Swan, and then another at the Eel Pie before returning home for some curry. Twickenham after a match is a pretty bustling, buzzy place - it's very good natured, too, with opposing fans mingling happily.

So, some wine talk. Pernod Ricard poured some nice wines before the game, including a crisp Brancott Sauvignon from Montana, Jacob's Creek Steingarten Riesling and Centenary Hill Shiraz, and a new red wine from Wyndham, a super-premium Cab/Shiraz blend called George Wyndham. They have a decent wine portfolio these days, although I felt I should have been drinking beer, not wine, before rugby. It's a tough life, this wine writing lark.

Tomorrow I'm doing a talk at the UK Vineyards Association symposium in Oxford. I'm going to be speaking about natural wine and the role of wine science.

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