Saturday, February 21, 2009

Irish Times review of our tasty Chinon today

Chinon Les Granges 2006 Bernard Baudry, 13%, €16 This is a very stylish light-bodied wine with beautifully concentrated summer fruits, and a lightly tannic finish. Try it with creamy chicken dishes, or charcuterie. Baudry also makes one of my favourite rosés, prefect summer drinking, and one of the few rosés for which it is worth shelling out more than €12. Stockists: On the Grapevine, Dalkey and Booterstown; Cabot Co., Westport; Liston’s, Camden Street; Poppy Seed, Clarinbridge; The Wine Room, One Pery Square, Limerick.

Some new value wines

I am happy to report that people are still buying wine, despite the fear and anguish stalking the land. However, people are definitely spending less, either buying fewer bottles or buying less expensive wines. I don't mind - as long as people are still coming in to us; as long as - 10 years on - we are still RELEVANT - I am happy enough.

We are conscious not to skimp on quality and so we have been getting through a fair few samples with a view to finding wines that are good quality and can sell at around a tenner. We have dispatched many samples to the neighbours or the drain, but we have found some interesting ones - there will be more to follow:

Poggerissi Rosso di Toscana - a great value, 100% Sangiovese from Rufina, this is cracking stuff. Lots of bitter cherry fruit, decent body and great with a bowl of pasta midweek. €10

Domaine Grauzan Sauvignon Blanc - crisp, fresh, dry and fruity. Half the price of Sancerre, more mellow and cheaper than Marlborough - great house wine crowd pleaser - €10

Simone Joseph Syrah/Grenache - another great crowd-pleaser - juicy, fruity but with enough structure to keep everything in check. Think Cotes du Rhone, but €4 cheaper - €9.

Simone Joseph Chardonnay - unoaked, from South of France. Drop that nasty, neutral Macon Lugny right now and get a decent drop in your glass - €11

REdfin Shiraz/Grenache (Oz) - want something smooth that everyone will like without having to think about it too much? Try this for €10 or 2 for €18

Los Prados Chenin / Semillon (Argentina) - nice blend from a good producer - crisp and fresh with plenty of fruit. Very gluggable €10 or 2 for €18

Araldica Barbera d'Asti - value from Piedmont? Yes it can be done - juicy, light and fruity - perfect with spag bol on a wed night. €11.

Campo de Borja Joven Seleccion - Garnacha - soft, ripe, smooth and fruity. The kind of wine that Spain does brilliantly - great at €11.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Booterstown is closed

I regret to relate that our sister operation in Booterstown has closed down, as of last weekend.

Our shop in Dalkey and our wholesale operation are, of course, still alive and well and we look forward to offering our customers even higher levels of value and service in the coming year.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Roederer Tasting the other night

Speaking of anti-cyclical planning, we battled against the zeitgeist (or shitegeist as David McWilliams now calls it) by having a great Louis Roederer tasting the other night, presented with characteristic panache by Charles Searson (thanks again Charles). The wines tasted were:

Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV - this is one of my favourite NV champagnes - very stylish, easy-drinking style with plenty of depth and concentration.

Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs 2000 - crisp, fresh on the palate but broadens out on the finish. Loads of fruit, would be a very good food wine.

Louis Roederer Rose 2003 - strawberries and raspberries on the nose, quite muted. Fruit explodes on the palate, suave and delicious. Put away for a few years.

Cristal 2002 - one of the great vintages of this great champagne. This is all about elegance, concentration and complexity. Still a baby, but amazing.

Louis Roederer Vintage 1996 - another great vintage, this was drinking beautifully. Secondary notes were prevalent and enhanced the complexity - beautifully balanced, elegant and concentrated.

A great tasting.

Virtuous circle or virtual circus?

Just a small interjection. I know it's not attractive (!) but I had a thought last night as I was lying awake worrying about the bank recapitalisation. There was an economist on the radio a few weeks ago talking about how the government should be investing in the economy, building roads and repairing schools etc. This creates jobs, resulting in tax revenue, feeding the government coffers, resulting in more funds available for investment and so on, creating what he called a virtuous circle.

Sometimes the simple things do work - is there any chance that Tweedledum and Tweedledumber were listening to this guy, but heard him incorrectly? They then put together a plan (ha!) to turn the country into a virtual circus.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Value for money

We have our heads wrecked looking for cheaper wines at the moment as the theme of 2009 is (quite rightly) value for money. We have always tried to offer value for money at every price level, by which I mean that, regardless of how much a bottle costs, you will be happy with the quality inside the bottle. I believe there should be a clear line of price/quality relationship, whereby if the price is higher, quality is as well. As a result of this, we always try every wine before we stock it as we have to be able to look the customer in the eye and say it's worth it.

At the moment, our range starts at €9 (except for special offers) and it is genuinely hard to find good, drinkable wines for less. We have just tried 12 wines which would sell for under €10 and will stock 3; the others we could not honestly stand over.

The ones we import ourselves are even trickier because we know if the wine doesn't work, we will end up having to drink it ourselves. Now that really focusses the mind!

Any suggestions would be welcome...

Monday, February 2, 2009

2004 Burgundy reds and that funny taste

Has anybody else noted a weird "green taste" lurking in the background of red Burgundies from the 2004 vintage? I have found this exact same taste almost scattered at random, finding it in some wines from certain producers, but not their other wines; from some appellations, but not others; from some producers and not others. Its randomness leads me to think it is not a ripeness thing or it would be more pervasive. Is it a yeast issue? I don't know, the only answer I have got is a gallic shrug of the shoulders and mumblings about "gout du millesime".....

One wine that doesn't have it is the Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru "Les Bondues" from Darviot Perrin. Didier Darviot is a meticulous producer, based in Monthelie who is best known for his whites, with excellent holdings in Chassagne Montrachet and Meursault. His wines are always very correct and well made, reflecting their origins perfectly and with some style. His reds are harder to sell, in fact when we are ordering from him, he makes us buy 40% reds, even though we would probably prefer about 20% red - this is the kind of stuff you can only get away with in Burgundy. Anyway, the 2004 Chassagne Premier Cru is medium bodied, with a lovely nose of raspberries and ripe red fruits. Silky texture, lovely purity of fruit and long finish - very classy stuff. The 05 is, of course, even better, but for the long haul.