Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Yule log and HNY!

Hope you all had a wonderful yuletide?‬‪
We had a crisp cold christmas cracker of a day down in Norfolk.‬‪
Was great to have christmas day on a Thursday as this gave us a four day break with Annas family away from the hustle and bustle.‬‪
Particularly enjoyed the time to relax due to all the recent excitement including moving house.‬‪ I will be shortly reporting on the state of my new wine cellar which looks to be the perfect place to store my stash.

Fantastic christmas lunch at Adrian and Lynnes with great selection of drinks including Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a decanted bottle of lovely terroir laden claret, a St Joseph (northen Rhone), vintage port (from the year of my birth! – 29yo) and finally home made worthing sloe gin.‬‪. No notes- This was my day off!‬‪
Happy New Year!

Update and scores

I'm shortly going to start adding wine scores to my tasting notes. This is a sensible approach which aims to rate each wine against a scale and becomes very useful when comparing similar wines and particularly when looking back.
We use a good system of 1-109 at the kiwiwinefanclub which I got used to and may start using on this site. Lookout!
More on this later when I have discussed with Mark in BCN!!
Post pictures will be added later on.
I have no internet access in the new house so updates are happening from my Blackberry.

Warwick Estate

Friends for supper at the new house and it seemed a nice idea to open a bottle of South African wine for Megan.

2003 Warwick Estate Trilogy‬‪ Stellenbosch, South Africa‬‪

Liking the South African Bordeaux blends, you can tell they are from the new world with such power and complexity!! Tried some excellent ones at the wine awards back in September.‬‪This top of the range wine comes from a well regarded producer where effort and concentration has clearly been put into the bottle.‬‪Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot blend.‬‪ Predominantly Cabernet, a rich and warm nose with dark black fruits, smoke, all spice and blackberry with a great smooth palate structure and a touch of herbal mint.‬‪5 years of age.

Wilbur Wilson‬‪

Saturday, 27 December 2008

The Dual Tale of a Dude and a Bottle of Torres Milmanda 2005

This story has been three-and-a-half years in the making, and follows two parallel lives; that of myself, and that of this very bottle of wine (picture may not depict actual bottle of wine but may be indistnguishable from said bottle).

In the summer of 2005, myself and three brave souls embarked on a voyage from South Yorkshire, heading in the direction of Barcelona. We were too attend the Sonar electronic music festival, and my friends were to leave me there, as I was to start working in a summer camp a week or so later.

We made it in time, alas, my car did not, suffering the same fate as Joan of Arc, in the same town, Rouen, going up in a puff of smoke. Green Flag maintained our momentum in the form of overnight train tickets, and etc etc.

After the festival, which was boss, I arrived at the summer camp, next to the UNESCO monestry of Poblet. Many stories happened me that summer, and the subsequent summers that I was foolish enough to return to teach the spoilt rogues English, but there was a story taking place not 5 minutes down the road, in a place that looks like this:

This is Milmanda castle, near the town of Vimbodi in Tarragona. It is classified as a D.O. Conca de Barbera region, and it is on this estate that wine giant Torres
produced some of its best wines: Milmanda, of which I will harp, and Grans Muralls, which I have yet to probar.

July and August 2005, then, would have been the ripening of the Chardonnay grapes that eventually made it into the bottle, and the following summer, the wine would have been maturing in oak casks. In the final year of my time at camp, I found out about the vinyard, and organised a trip for my staff to go and check it out. The little tourist choo-choo was right on time to whistle us round the local village before dropping us off at the castle.

The standard Torres DVD clart was presented, emphasising the great yadda-yadda and the importance of the hoo-ha, before the local guide took us for a peak around the castle. Not much to see, unfortunately, as the wine is processed at their mammoth plant near Vilafranca, but there was an electrified hawk on display to draw attention to the conservation work that Torres is involved in.

At the end of the tour, we were all invited to a glass of the standard Vina Sol. A few of us decided to chip in for a bottle of the Milmanda that we'd heard about, enchanted as we were by the stories of this wine at the Prince and Princess of Asturias' wedding, as well as its appearance on the wine list at El Bulli. Even to our naive palettes, this golden liquid seemed special, and after the tiniest of portions, I was ready to hand over €30 in readies, more than I had ever or may ever consider splashing out on 75cl of booze. Needless to say, I took care of it like a newborn panda, and planned to save it for a very special occasion.

After I got it home, it stayed stowed away in my room for a good while, fearful that it could be mistakenly uncorked if kept in the kitchen and drank with lemonade out of plastic cups. It gathered dust, I liked that. I got an old airing cupboard like my grandma had, and my bottle had a new home. Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise; sunset. Sunrise - sunset.

I began to get a little anxious about my baby wine panda after reading a couple of things, and talking to a couple of people. Most white wines, especially chardonnays, are drunk soon after purchase, and to stop the wine from deteriorating, it should stay still, at a temperature of 14 degrees. I would never be able to manage that, so got to thinking about having a special occasion as soon as I could.

Two and a half years had passed. But with no children or weddings in sight, there was only one thing for it. Christmas! Thank God for the birth of Jesus. A special semi-traditional lunch with my hermosa novia before she went off to see her papa in Venezuela: ideal. The wine, as it happened, coupled gloriously with every course. The Catalan staple, sopa de galets; fried prawns; a cheese board, and finally; chocolate muffins.

The tipple? Ya te digo. A metallic golden in colour, like the baubauls suspended in the lounge. Legs slow to cascade around the glass. A rich autumnal smell, mature and comforting. At taste time, creamy, all around the mouth. With very little acidity, the only thing similar to other chardonnays I've tried was the reminicence of mature white fruit. The overriding joy to this drink is the strong notes of butter in every sip, more evident as the bottle went down, and the presents were unwrapped.

Mark Philip Dix I

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

macon villages

Christmas meal in Finsbury park with Catherine and Lucy.

Lucy has some experience in the wine industry and opened several bottles of lovely white burgundy for the meal

A white wine made from chardonnay in the Macon-Villages appellation in southern Burgundy.

A region that is particularly suited to chardonnay grapes due to some excellent sheltered areas lying beneath the rolling limestone hills of the region.

These wines can be compared as junior versions of the regions more famous Pouilly Fuisse.

Tesco Macon Villages

A straw yellow colour with a soft fruity nose.

Lovely stone fruit palate balanced with a great refreshing acidity and a soft melon body.

Great chardonnay!

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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A Casa Portuguesa

A word about a Sunday afternoon's outing to A Casa Portuguesa in the Gracia neighbourhood of Barcelona.

A Madrid-based school-friend of mine has got himself a Portugese girlfriend, whose countrymen and pals own this classy but reasonably-princed rincon full of Portugese goodness. We took a couple of hours out to give this joint the once-over.

I am insisting, these days, on starting with a white, whose citrus tones can combine genially with the fatty opulence of many different cheeses. Take this 2007 Loureiro from Quinta de Gomariz, for example. One sniff of the sampler glass was enough to convince us to go for the entire bottle. The assistant told us it was vinho verde, rather than white, and forms a slight effervescence in the bottle whilst developing. It had a punchy peachy nose, with secondary aromas of elderflower, and its fizz made it a top choice to combine with the creamy cheese board that we had been served. The stuff was fruity, like a Galician white, but also had a lot of floral notes that we discovered as the glasses went down. The acidity was just right, and it was long too, for a young wine. Highly recommended!

We followed this course with some Portugese puddings and a bottle of tinto. The pastries, known as Pasteis de Belem, were little custard tarts in filo pastry cases, heavily flavoured with cinnamon, covered in caster sugar and served cold. The wine, a 2006 blend of aragones, trincodeira and castelao grapes was from the Alentejo region. Vampire-ruby in colour, it was quite light in colour, spicy on the nose. In the gob, we got cherry, black pepper and clove. Quite dry at first, it had a sweet aftertaste; after my final sip, I let out a prune burp.

The total, for five of us to enjoy these delicacies, was 35 euros, which I think is more than reasonable. As my friend Belen put it, "menos mal que nos queda portugal".

Mark Philip Dix I

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Corby Corby Corbiere

Threshers got an offer on a Radcliffe's Corbieres (3 for 2 I think).
Mont Tauch 2006, a black boar on an orange label, it's a wicked drop, super easy drinkin, i put away a bottle this evenin without a thought. Very mellow, not heavy on the tongue but a rich plum fruit none-the-less. Not smoky, not heavily peppery, just subtley done.
Have it!


French Night

Bonjour mon amis du vin:

Heir soir we had the latest of our wine meetings at Tom and Claire's in Barceloneta. The theme was all things French, as a number of us had just got back from a weekend DJing in Toulouse, and were full of le inspiration. We had a couple of tried and tested classics for the table, some new combinations spied on our ramblings, and of course a couple of nouvelles trucs regionelles to try out.

I'll tell you right away that we weren't as strict as maybe we could have been, but it's not always easy to cop French produce at the last minute in Catalonia, even though we're only a couple of hours' drive from the border.

The first wine up for review was Les Roses Du Clos, a 2005 Fie Gris, a variety native to Touraire, also known as sauvignon rose. Pale and golden in colour, it had little nose compared to the bouncy Spanish whites we've become accustomed to. The taste, however, was big. The flavour of peach dominated, but some found its acidity a bit but on its own. Shortly thereafter came a Toulousean treat that we had seen served last weekend. A whole camembert is filled with smoked salmon (or cured duck) and melted in the oven, and served in a little dish with bread. This is a piece of piss to knock up at home and I'd definately recommend it with a quality French white like we enjoyed.

A little contrast was to follow with Trevor's election. Unable to locate a single French white at his preferred bodega, he instead brought a 2007 Galician white from a cellar by the name of Santiago Ruiz. Comprised of Alberino, Loureiro and Treixadura grapes, this one was a banger. The golden-green fluid seemed to propel itself high into the nasal cavities; no effort whatsoever was required to enjoy its citrus aromas. In the mouth, we got nectarine and mature white fruit, discovering secondary floral aromas along the way. To accompany we broke out a doorstop of lumpy cheese bought en route back to Barna. No information was available about this product (the French have a penchant for excluding such details from their packaging), but I can digress that it was so rich in creamy nutty flavour that it vanished in no time, rind and all.

Next up, a joint from Cotes de la Malepere whose name was Le Mas de Monpere, which caused minor confusion. Our Froggy guest of honour, Jerry McBerry suggested that Mas meant mast, as in ship, whereby Natalia the Catalana maintained that it was the same as the Catalan significance, meaning country house. Most saw that Natalia had logic on her side. Deep cherry red in colour, it reeked of forest fruits. The taste was quite different, surprisingly. Dry and spicy, this had been recommended without culinary accompaniment, which everyone agreed with. This granache noir was a burst of autumn flavour which I would thoughoughly recommend.

Tom brought out his piece de resistance following that: patates gratin dauphoise. Quite a simple dish, it was nice and heavy and had people fighting over the oven-browned topping. Together with that, a 2005 Domaine de Saint Guilhem from the AOC Fronton. Using the negrette grapes, this thing was deep burgundy in colour with a flourescent red surround. Toasted on the nose, the tasting stage divided opinion. So rich in tanins was this wine that some enlikened its texture to that of wool. Really long with hints of liquorice, I dug it, others never.

The two-course dessert rally started with a block of artisanal mint chocolate brought by Ominous K. I'd never considered mint with red wine before, so was eager to check out the second and final bouteille imported from the South-West of France. Folk were hoping for something lighter than the last tanin whirlpool, and got what they were after with the Chateau Laurou 2006, again from Fronton. This one was lighter and more translucent, and had a hint of vanilla on a sniff. It had a more fruity, Spanish character, and was well recieved.

By this point, the entire club were sporting false moustaches of varying colours and devouring their way through a couple of bars of ginger-flavoured chocolate simply named Sexy. Oh la la.

Mark Philip Dix I

Sunday, 7 December 2008


A notable producer from the Eastern Languedoc region of Faugeres.
An area that has a schist soil type which provides unique growing conditions for these dry white wines. Red and whites are grown here with the whites made out of traditional Rhone grape varieties such as Rousanne and in this case Marsanne. Often produced with an emphasis on oak aging and lots of malo fermentation to impart some texture.

Domaine Alquier Blanc, Faugères, 2005
Deep dark yellow in colour, this wine has a spicy oak nose
and a sturdy full bodied oaked palate with a fat nutty texture and generous long finish.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Mexican party

Mexicans at Bute Street, fajitas, quesadillas and tequila!
We also had incongruous bread and butter pudding and celebrated being together with some
Bottles of Champagne from the Cellar.
I feel that you should always have a reason for cracking open the Brut which we really


Two bottles

The Wine Societys Champagne NV (Alfred Gratien)
Light golden in colour with miniscule bubbles rising randomly.
Made in the famous region of Epernay and fermented in small oak barrels.
This imparts a delicous soft and deep nutty flavour with toasted caramel note and a long lasting finish.

Champagne Louis de Sacy NV

Understated light yellow in colour with a tight minerally nose. Elegant toasted oak a crisp citrus and sharp appley palate with an expressive savoury complexity.
80% single vineyard from la famille Sacy.
Superb and classic Champagne.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Brand new Beaujolais

"Beaujolais Nouveau Domaine Chantegrillet 2008

i bought this wine on impulse in the supermarket the other week. I had no idea when the Beaujolais Nouveau comes out but it turned out to have been just a few days before. Advice from North Yorkshire told me that it should be drunk now so i wasted no time this evening.

this wine is bright, direct and clear tasting.
the taste is so...simple that i cant really escribe it by comparison using the usual adjectives. its not acidic, theres a hint of fruit but the taste is just that of a straight up, honest and highly drinkable wine.

as a result of this freshness there isnt a cloying aftertaste and it is very drinkable.

Unfortunately due to this wine's qualities, there isn';t much I can say in words about it - it's better to drink it!

I bought this from Waitrose, so try there."

Monday, 1 December 2008

Vin de Pays

Im continuing with my winter whites and this is a decent everyday wine perfect for the cold. I started this at home and then took it to a Jacket Potato party down at some friends in Kelham Island.
Jackets and fillings were provided as promised and it was a lovely night. Such an excellent idea for a dinner party!
We ate very well, quickly got through this and also enjoyed a bottle of Rioja. Afterwards we stood on the balcony watching a heron fishing in the Don.

2007 Asda Extra Special Viognier (JC MAS) Vin de Pays
A sweet nose of tropical fruit, vanilla and cream with a fruity full bodied palate. This dry wine has a hint of spicy oak from the time spent fermenting in new oak barrels.