Sunday, 27 December 2009

Xmas drinking

So the drinking on christmas day way - Waitrose Amontillado Sherry, pretty nice, and a lot better than it ought to have been, a small glass of the Figeac 96 that had been in the decanter from the previous night, very figeac like, as it had a bit of the medoc about the nose, then an almost embarrassed core of ripeness, like it didn't really want to admit it was a St Emilion.
Some Joseph Perrier 99, which was good, quite rich, but lacking a touch of intensity and acidity.
Tinon Dry Szamoradni 03, which was almost Proustian in the way that the scent of it took me right back to the cellar and scrubbing the barrels.
Josmeyer Samain 00 Riesling was utterly revelatory, rich, tight, minerally, creamy, complex and frankly one of the best things I've put in my mouth over the last year.
Then Clerc Milon 96 - earthy/farmyardy with this lovely chocolatey shitty sort of nose.
After that I went to sleep.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


So having chatted to one of Fred's friends (via Matthew at Pacific) I'm going to be the proud custodian of a bottle each of 61 and 78 Latour. Should be fun to try and sell.....
Oh and also some 1970 Cos d'Estournal, though I've a feeling that a bottle of that might make it into my personal cellar..

Monday, 21 December 2009

Bugee jumping without the rope

Tonights featured wines will be...

Both from the Rubin Winery

A varietal Vranac, and teh Car Lazar, Stono Polusuvo Vino (Merlot, Vranac and Gamay) - neither wine appears to have a vintage, though there is a printed barcode like date on the back of them, so Vranac is 201108 and the Car Lazar is 231009, if that helps.

Vranac first - (Gergely has just suggested I think about what I'd like read at my palettes funeral, which I think might be a bit unfair)
Seems dark in colour, but then I'm sat in a dark corner. Slightly volatile fruit, there's a cakey like character here - almost a cinnamon, raisin marzepan like note - a bit more volatility and then I realise it reminds me of the German Christmas bisquits. On the palette it's quite light, with low tannins and a volatile plummy sort of character. Gergely rekons there might have once been a red fruit character..... Well I'm inclined to agree that there isn't really much concentration here, though once again I'm in agreement that the alcohol is balanced (there's only 11.5%) though that probably reflects the lack of character..
Also Gergely isn't allowed to make any more comments as they're getting a little of message.

Car Lazar
Now after the inauspiciousness of the Vranac, what will the Car Lazar reveal (apart from the cool name - Major Lazar!Q!!!!!!)
A reasonable amount of fruit on the nose - red berries and a touch of bramble, again lacking in any sort of intensity on the palette, one imagines that several decades of civil war impedes concentration, well at least imparts a certain skittishness.
This is ok, at least it's fruity and doesn't seem like a concerted effort to extol the virtues of dirty volatility. Right time to BBQ some lamb and get stuck into some seriuously convoluted regional politics.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Thinking about the new year

So I'm sat around with a Negroni, thinking about the new year. New chef, hopefully a new menu too. What I want to see is a smaller menu that will let the chefs have a bit less general prep to do, which will let them focus on regular specials. If I can then tie this into a daily staff meeting then we can improve the standard of staff knowledge regarding the dishes, and offer our regular guests something more interesting for their visits. Also on a more personal note I might have more of a chellenge regarding food/wine matching..

Friday, 18 December 2009

So that was Christmas

Well Christmas is pretty much over now, and I can start to contemplate sleeping. Not loads of interesting wines sold, but a lot of covers passed, and lots and lots of time spent at work.
However late nights on the bus reading Black Swans by Nassim Nicolas Taleb has left me posing some questions. Principally regarding the way that people actually experience wines and food;
The effect of post hoc justification regarding wine quality, particularly when there is a big name or a big price tag.
How dopamine release influences perception of quality, examples would be the holiday rose phenomenon, where the wine that was ethereal when being sipped as the sun set in the south of France becomes disappointing ordinary back home. Now I'm sure that I've read articles talking about studies that show how spending money whilst shopping can trigger dopamine release and thus engender feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. How much of the excitement of actually spending lots of money on a bottle of wine is actually reflected in the pleasure garnered in the drinking/experiencing of it.
Then more generally what is the root cause of pleasure experienced in relation to food and wine consumption.
Obviously with wine, the alcohol present has an effect. There is also an element of taste present, and we are all suckers for things that taste nice. However it is evident that wine is something that we learn to appreciate, does this make it more susceptible to learned preconceptions regarding it's quality and complexity?
The Fat Duck cook book has many interesting facets to it, central to Blumenthals philosophy seems to be engaging the brain, so creating an experience, adding extras to the experience that complement the food. What is the spit between direct appreciation of flavour and appreciation that is related to the environment/existing preconceptions etc..
Reading the opening chapter to Noble Rot, about Bdx, there was a comment about how the new world had made wine labels more decipherable by listing grape varieties, rather than obscure place names et al. However I got to wondering whether this was actually any real use, as simple listing that the wine is a Merlot or a Shiraz doesn't neccecarily make things much easier, and with reflection, how different is this to the old old tradition of labelling things after the place from whence the best known proponent of the style they were copying originated. Australian Claret, Haughtons White Burgundy, Californian Hock? Did the European insistence on the trade marking of certain geographical denominators actually do them a disservice in the long run, as it forced the newer wine regions to forge identities for themselves, surely now Chardonnay is a bigger brand than Burgundy ever was... Certainly Sauvignon Blanc is much better known than Sancerre will ever be. However how much use is Sauvignon Blanc as an indicator of style when you compare an Alto Adige with an oaked example from San Antonio?
A few things I've been musing on.