Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Off to Tuscany

Off to Tuscany in the morning, taxi booked for 5am. Before you think I'm off on some glamorous wine-tasting trip, let me clarify it is a holiday with family in tow, so I suspect it will be about 5% wine tasting and 95% water slides. Still, I don't expect any sympathy.....

The point is, there may or may not be wifi where we are going, so there may or may not be updates from bella Italia.

In my absence, Carol might update us on her wonderful trip to portugal last week (now that was a booze cruise...). Or she might not.

Worst case scenario, i'll be back May 12th.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Match of the Day

Watching Match of the Day the other night and finishing a bottle of Felton Road Chardonnay 2002, which had been delicious with roast chicken earlier on and I got a craving for a bit of cheese. Now, foodies and wine anoraks alike have been extolling the virtues of white wine and cheese for many years now, but I hadn't been paying much attention, so I decided on the only sensible course of action in such a situation - just eat whatever is in the fridge.

In this case, it was some slightly out-of-date (ie extra mature) Cooleeney. What a match! Went down really well together and enhanced my football viewing no end. Pam came down then looking for her glass which she had left in the fridge earlier, but it had unfortunately evaporated.

Some bottles are just not big enough....

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bussola is back!

The story goes that the famous Amarone producer Quintarelli was asked a few years ago who was the next big thing in Valpolicella and he replied "Tomasso Bussola". Bussola's wines are rightly famous in Italy and are superb examples of the best you can get from Valpolicella and Amarone. the Gambero Rosso also described him as "the greatest Recioto producer of them all". Recioto della Valpolicella, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this little-known joy, is a sweet version of Amarone. A glass of Recioto with some dark chocolate and you are on a fast-track to heaven!

We now have 5 Amarones in the shop, which is probably about 3 more than we actually need, but they are all good in their own way. Bussola Amarone BG made number 5 this week, after a prolonged absence. Amarone is a very sexy style of wine, but I don't think it goes well with food - I agree with the Italians that it is a "vino de meditazione" to be drunk after dinner, preferably with a hunk of cheese (parmesan goes well).

If you like Amarone, but find it too strong and heavy with dinner, what do you drink? Ripasso, of course. This is a style of wine, halfway between Valpolicella and Amarone, which has many of the characteristics of Amarone, but isn't as heavy or as alcoholic (Bussola's 2004 Amarone is 16.5%). Ripasso is made by adding Valpolicella to the Amarone barrels after the Amarone has been racked off; the wine undergoes a second fermentation in barrel, adding a degree or so of alcohol, more body, more fruit, more everything, basically. The result is a supercharged Valpolicella or a lighter Amarone, depending on how you look at it. However you look at it, the results can be very attractive. The best version, in my humble opinion, is Bussola Valpolicella Superiore TB. We had it in Hartley's last night and it was stonking - rich, full-bodied velvetty texture and loads of dark cherry fruit and chocolate and all sorts going on.....it's expensive of course, but you're worth it!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Muddy Water new arrivals

Just in is the new vintage Dry Riesling from Muddy Water, which has been getting many plaudits from press all over the world, such as this from Foodservice magazine April 2008:

"This is so pure. A feather-light riesling showing supreme elegance and delicacy, yet with superb concentration and intensity"

As usual, I don't have much of it! Also got in some Hare's Breath Pinot Noir, also from Muddy Water. Leaving aside the dodgy name, this single vineyard wine has proven to be very popular since its launch. It is quite savoury, spicy and quite a bit of oak (35% new French oak) - a bit unusual, a bit moe like a Californian Pinot that NZ, but delicious nonetheless.

Looks like my prediction was correct - I'm sure closing off-licences at 10 PM or whenever will be hugely successful in changing the binge-drinking culture of the small percentage of the population who make fools of themselves every weekend.

I close at 8pm and I can still drink too much. Of course, I don't. Not often, anyway.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More anti-drink hysteria...

The report from the HSE about the dangers of the demon drink is fairly damning stuff and there seems no doubt that a mixture of (probably) drugs and alcohol is making the streets a more threatening place and clogging up the A&E departments. However, am I alone in thinking that it's WHAT we drink and HOW we drink that is the problem. I mean, you never see people starting a fight on the street after a couple of glasses of Gevrey Chambertin with their dinner, do you? A pint of plain on the way home from work doesn't necessarily lead you to harass grannies on the Luas, does it?

Drink is much more prevalent and much cheaper in France, Spain, Italy and most other civilised countries and they don't have the same public order problems. People need to be educated about respect - for alcohol, for other people but mainly for themselves.

Of course the government will react by restricting availability, opening hours blah blah blah, all useless, pointless measures. The increasing bad press for drink will, of course, justify higher duties in the next budget - they are just softening us up for it.....

Monday, April 21, 2008

On the Grapevine Maiden blog...

Well, I've been toying with the idea of a blog for a while now and fretting about not having anything to say or having too much to say or trying to stick to wine matters without veering off into rants about the many things that might annoy me but is of no interest whatsoever to anyone else!

We had a great tasting in the shop on Friday night - the line-up was:

Gaja Sito Moresco 2005

Gaja Barbaresco 2003

Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2004

Pio Cesare Barolo 2003

Boroli Barolo 2000

Boglietti Barolo "Brunate" 2003

Most people agreed that the Gaja Barbaresco was beautiful, seamless wine - elegant, balanced and delicious. Of course, at €160 per bottle, this was to be expected. The Sito Moresco, a blend of Nebbiolo, Cabernet and Merlot seemed a tad clumsy and not quite hanging together. The Pio Cesare wines were, as expected, very good but hard to drink by comparison. The Boroli Barolo was the favourite wine on the night, helped by the fact that Boroli's typical accessible style was helped by an extra 3 years in bottle. Boglietti's wine was delicious, I thought, in a very modern style, but an excellent Barolo. We finished the Gaja Barbaresco, Boroli and Boglietti with dinner on Friday night and went back to The 2 Pios and the Sito Moresco on Sunday. All 3 had improved dramatically, the Sito was much more integrated and the Pio Barbaresco elegant and delicious. The Pio Barolo was still a bit tough - had to get some smelly cheese to go with it.