Monday, June 29, 2009

Mad To Eat Madras, No Win With A Vindaloo

I'd been craving for a Indian curry for a few days now......so..after playing soccer on Sunday(humid weather but we won 7-5)..I collected some food from the restaurant...and, on returning from my Radio Show..we sat outside in the garden. The Madras curry was delicious and not too hot so as to make it unmatchable with a wine. I've just purchased a few Grüner Veltliner..and decided on this mid-range example.
Loimer Grüner Veltliner 'Terrassen' 2007
Kamptal, Austria

Voted by Falstaff as best wine in it's class in this super vintage and one can see w
hy. Reserved nose..trace of the smoky character...improved with airing...crunchy spices on the palate....white pepper....fresh..clear fruit...the acidity at the back..leaving the rest to impress you...tight minerals...this goes down SO easily...like sandpapered velvet. Hard to leave alone on a warm summer's evening....even the Madras had to accept defeat.
Points 16.75
Here we go again....memories...back in the 60's..an evening out in the pub was followed by a visit to any of the many Indian restaurants...the intention being..the curry would help you recover from the excess beer. Over a period of time you got used to the Madras curry and didn't have to gulp water (or beer if you hadn't had enough already). I applied for a job and had to go to London. I didn't get the one I wanted....but was offered another in Bristol...which changed my life...one small decision. Anyway...after the interview...I wandered the streets and found an Indian restaurant with a large milk machine by the entrance. I was met by a smiling waiter..and after leading me to my table..he presented me with the menu. I was feeling good...and when he returned I decided (for the first time ever) to order a 'Vindaloo'..which is the next step up from Madras. 'Beef Vindaloo please'...his eyes widened..'Oh No No No sir...NO'....I tried again ' A Beef Vindaloo please' ...and the same reaction....OK Barry..you are 21..you have a new job.. you will be leaving home...you decide and insist...so I did. He left shaking his head. I was day-dreaming about the future...and after 20 minutes..he returned with a dark red fiery plate. Was there a scowl as he placed it in front of me? He left before I could order some water. I checked to see where he was.....and saw he was standing near the kitchen...his eyes fixed on me. Not to be defeated....I plunged my fork into the 'heatwave' and propelled it into my mouth. Hmmm...meat is tender...very nice..what is all the fuss about...YIKES...oh no..this is hot...very hot..where is that water I should have ordered...can't speak..so can't call him...think Barry..think. The milk machine..carton milk...quick as I could I headed for the door...searching my pocket for the correct amount...I forced the coin into my 'saviour'...there was a cluck-cluck-cluck and the milk appeared. I tore open the carton..and my head looking to the stars..I gulped and gulped and gulped......ahhh...saved...and as I finally decided I could take a normal breath..I saw..out of the corner of my eye..the head of the waiter nodding his head up and down..as if to say..... 'I Warned You'.
I managed to finish the meal..with some ordered water.
Most Indians drink Whiskey with their strong curries..which sounds like pouring petrol on a burning fire
....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Across Europe in 3 Days


















How about this for a trip..Spain..through Germany to Austria(Hungary)..all in the space of 3 days....all about the same price..under the € 20,-- mark......

Muga Reserva 2005
Rioja, Spain

A traditional Bodega..it said on the merchant's list...and I remember lovely 'typical' examples in the
70's...enticing with vanilla and cream..and soft gentle tannins. I wouldn't say this is the same style...it is more in between the young and old method. Wild dark berries hit the nostrils..dark chocolate..concentrated fruit..medium tannins which pop their heads up to tell you this will age...quite complex.
Points 16.5 Price: € 17,--

Some pasta with fresh 'Pfifferling'..and fried Quails....













Seeger Cuveé AnnA 2006
Baden, G
ermany
The Seeger property is in the town of Leimen...probably more famous as the birthplace of Boris Becker (love the story about him buying a new house near Wimbledon....it has 3 bedrooms & 20 broom closets!!!). Seeger wins prizes for his top Pinot Noir 'S..'R'... & 'RR'...they are costly...but I must try them soon. This is much more approachable moneywise..€ 18,--.
A cuveé of Spätburgunder, Lemberger(Blaufränkisch and Schwarzriesling(Pinot Meunier). Named after his Grannie..Anna..An intense very clear colour...closed at first..cool & reserved..but opened with airing...the soft Pinot is hugged by the earthy Lemberger...no idea what the Meuni
er is doing...maybe they give out the smoky aroma..but it works wonderfully well. A big bowl of juicy fruits tingle the tongue....a serious wine but very quaffable..can be enjoyed now..but the bouquet needs a few years......I must try the Pinot Noirs.
Points 17.25 Price: € 19,--











Uwe Schiefer Blaufränkisch 'Pala' 2007
Südburgenland, Austria

Strangely..on the day I had this..I had done some business in Hungary. Checking the label...the grapes were grown in Hungary but bottled in Austria
Am I influenced by my eyes when drinking?....this has a blue tint...medium thick berry aromas...peppery & spicy..like a Hungarian Goulasch...but with a back layer of soft fruit...fresh & open...needs food to show it's best side..good value...
Points 16.5 Price. € 17,--

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Spanish Weekend

A weekend with a Spanish theme....Saturday..after a visit to the River Rhein..we stopped over at a Spanish Tapas Restaurant..'El Sur'. We hadn't booked...there was an offer of Shrimps..all you could eat..so inside was full..as was the garden area...we eventually found a table...sat down..and noticed it was cooler when you sit..and the sun had gone down at 7.30. We covered up as best we could with our available clothing and ordered a cold plate of Tapas...I wanted to try a glass of the Rioja..but it was sold out..so the waiter recommended...
Mas Donis Celler de Capcanes 2006,
Monsant, Spain.
A cuvée from mainly Garnacha and a small amount of Syrah..spends a small period of 3 months in French & U.S. Barrels. Quite full in colour..fresh..fruity style some raspberries....dark cherry..and an earthy peppery touch...reser
ved tannins and acidity...good finish. The 0,2 glass was ordered twice more during the evening......
Points 16
As the place was buzzing..we ordered our main courses....and moved inside around 9.30...and the meals reached us around 9.45.
At least we were warmer by now..and we left around 11.00. I suffered at night...eating so late..and a hefty lamb course swimming in oil was no help. A good place to visit..but plan it better next time!




Sunday evening..I had managed to recover..and we had the last of this year's white Asparagus. Time to delve into that mixed case of Spanish wines.

Remirez de Ganuza Blanco
'Erre Punto' 2007

Rioja, Spain
60% Viura & 40% Ma
lvasia..13.5% Alcohol.....5 months in new & old barrels..green yellow colour...clean aroma..perfect light oaky smell...this just caressed the barrels...yippee...some melons and peaches..and roses..the acidity bounces back and fro..this is a lively wine..a serious wine for warm summer evenings..lying nicely on the palate..if only all white Rioja was like this....bravo.
Points 16.25



The 'late meal' reminded me of a visit to Almeria a few years ago...where I found a restaurant the locals did not know about. I had a snack on the main boulevard at 7pm..as the restaurant(as is normal in Spain) did not open until 9pm. Once in the restaurant I was invited into the wine cellar to choose wine..the starter(large) arrived at 10pm..and the main course at 11pm. I said to my business partners at the table..I need to eat earlier normally..they answered 'ah, but you are in Spain now'..to which I replied..'Yes..I know that..but my stomach doesn't'!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Three Oohs, Three Ahhs, & An 18 Pointer

Our regular meeting at the local Bistro...I had to try some of the newer additions to the cellar....the usual 'mob' was with me...
Kuhn Sauvignon Blanc Mandelpfad trocken 2008
Pfalz, Germany

I had the 2007 in March..any was very impressed...but no more available....so when this 2008 came onto the market I snapped up 3 bottles. Open and sniffed...and the SB is very dominant...but with airing and an octopus salad as partner..it lost the extreme smell and showed spices, a good weight...trace of the melons...thinking back..the 2007 was opened well in advance..and was a great vintage..so I should not be too critical and try this again in 2-3 months with maybe a decant (don't hold me to the decant....it all seems hard work with white wine..and is a devil to keep cool)
Points 16.5

R & C Schneider Spätburgunder 2006' Parzelle Schönenberg'
Baden, Germany
Ah...regulars will know I have tried the 2005 a few times at 'Rebstock' in Waldulm....and had heard that the 2006 was better!!!! Tried to find some...nada...but as it is with us vino-nuts..the wine gods look down on us...and reward us for good choices...I was checking a wine-list on the net...finding nothing that really appealed...and there in the middle..was this wine. I went mad..and ordered 6 bottles..and this evening wanted to share it with Volker & Robert. So..how was it...well firstly...I had decided we would try this..then the Rioja...which was the correct order....but as you will read...we should have maybe finished this bottle first...ah..hindsight..that's not to say this was not very good...and could well attain the heights of the 2005...certainly tighter and reined in...lovely strawberry fruit..and soft tannin coating..more 'serious' than the voluptuous '05..so I am not worried that the other 5 are down below.
Points 17.25...but let's try this again..on it's own-some..
Óscar Tobía Reserva 2004
Rioja, Spain
...and so to the Spanish Sinner...that left us in awe....opened and smelled...man..this is good..intense minerals...sour cherries and plums...a trace of the oak...the worry I had that this was gonna be a 'Blockbuster Fruit Monster' (14%) was foundless..a wonderful easy feeling on the palate..fills the mouth..roasted tones...this is 90% Tempranillo and 10% Otras and spends 21 months in French and Hungarian oak...but no worries about soft sweet woodiness..this is 'new Spain'..we kept oohing and ahhing..and comparing it to Roda and the likes...wonderful texture and a long finish....which I had better do now.
Points 18....without reservation.
and the price...€ 23,--!!!!!



The evening finished with some cigars and banter....ain't life good?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

La Primera Vino

Somebody has to be first....and this is the one I chose from the Spanish 'Box of Tricks'
Bodegas Acústic Celler Braó 2006

Montsant, Spain

Made from 65 plus year old vines...45% Garnacha & 55% Samso....up-front information..this is young and will age..but it's all wrapped in a soft glove to make it instantly appealing today. Purple colour...cinnamon on the nose..fruit compote..dark cherry..autumn leaves....and you feel the intensity of the old vines...the palate shows some fine oak help...never obtrusive..peppery touch to combat the softness..a gentle bed of tannins..loads of crunchy minerals and an injection of acidity at the finish...it sounds a living wine..and it is.....you could exchange views with fellow drinkers with this one..everyone would find something more....but as I drank it alone...I should maybe have sat across from a mirror..but then I would have been distracted....so you have to make do with the above comments..which make it worth..
Points 17.5

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spanish Mixed Case..and a half

I ordered 3 more bottles of
Bodegas Rafael Palacios 'As Sortes' 2006

and was tempted...so..a mixed case of Spanish wines arrived....Spain is getting good press again..so time to test the waters once more over the next few weeks.
Whites
Gaba do Xil Blanco 2007 (Telmo Rodríguez)
Remírez de Ganuza Blanco »Erre Punto« 2007
Lagar de Cervera Albariño 2008 (La Rioja Alta)
Reds
Pazo de Señoráns »Selección de Añada« 2003
Sonorus Reserva 2004
Santa Cruz de Artazu 2004
Braó 2006
Remelluri Reserva 2004
Artadi »Viñas de Gain« 2006
Mirabel 2006 (Anders Vinding-Diers)
Muga Reserva 2005
Torres »Salmos« 2005 (Miguel Torres)
Óscar Tobía Reserva 2004
Protos Crianza 2005
Pinord +7 2005

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pinot White, Pinot Red

A Saturday evening at Restaurant Ambiente..the food being particularly good tonight... I took along a bottle of Schneider's Pinoir Noir 2005 for the main course....but the white was from the list of mainly Italian Wines. Alois Lageder has been producing fine wines for ages..always reliable whenever I have chosen them. His Chardonnay 'Löwengang' is worth searching out. The wine is 100% Pinot Grigio..a grape that can be safe..but boring..and available by the glass in many restaurants...but proving here..that it is capable of being more than a house wine type. The vintage was excellent..and these grapes were grown in Magré...Cool nights and 300 days of sunshine aren't a bad background to give any wine a chance.
Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Dolomiti 2007
Alto Adige, Italy
Straw coloured...a fresh bouquet..citrus fruit..with flowery aromas...peaches & melons..the palate shows a fuller style than expected...nicely balanced....elegant..and a lingering smokiness at the finish. A perfect accompaniment with a light dish of Tortelloni pasta.
Points 16.25
The
Schneider continues to impress..and was the liquid pleasure required by a Charolais Steak.

Classic Pie & Bordeaux

I say good old British food....and then the smiles break out.....but the traditional foods are classics... Everyone knows Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding (not actually a pudding as most know it)....Lamb with Mint Sauce (which I love) & Cottage Pie (not actually a pie)...but 100 years ago there were classics like Pheasant Pie..and I once visited a restaurant in Cornwall where they recreated the old dishes with fresh ingredients..delicious.Queen Victoria ate well. One of my favourite dishes that my mum used to make is Steak & Kidney pie..and my wife has mastered it..so once in a while I get to relive my youth. The perfect match is a Bordeaux...and as I don't have any 'new' Bordeaux..poor me had to go to the oldest part of my cellar...and choose a real 'oldie'.
Château Cos d'Estournel 1982

St.Estèphe, Bordeaux, France

Medium deep colour..with an amber rim...intriguing nose of powdered earth..slightly musty..but that is the charm of Bordeaux..not unattractive...the usual pencil shavings and tobacco....this had been decanted 2 hours before tasting..and was showing beautifully. I last had this about 5 years ago..and it worried me at the time..was not very forthcoming..but on the palate now it is lighter than I remember..although this vintage of Cos was 'off the rails'..not typical..and there is still a soft sweet plum texture..but now the balance is perfect. Cassis fruit caresses the tongue..creamy..and although there is ripe fruit.. the impression is 'cool'..and it is typical St. Estèphe...ah....they don't make modern wines that have this classic style any more....it lingers in your mouth for ages...I must eat more pies..if only to have the excuse to raid my vintage Bordeaux.
Points 18

Friday, June 12, 2009

To Admire Is Not To Love

Some wines are to be admired....even if you can't fall in love with them......maybe like love in real life..love can develope over a period.
Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay 2006
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Sweet, citrus fruit..which seems a contradiction..but is the best way to describe the nose...really quite intense..with some soft toasty nuances...this continues onto the palate with again the intensity to the fore...rich fruit but I was begging for a few more minerals....still very tight..and the next day showed it a little more harmonious..which could mean it toning down over the next few years. Maybe someone has tried mature bottles of this wine. but methinks this will always be a heavyweight to admire..but not to fall in love with. Mind you..if we all loved the same woman.......
Points 16.5

Back in the 80's I knew Burgundy like the back of my hand...now I need glasses to read that..but Burgundy..more than any other area..is down to knowing the grower. Back then Domaine 'X' produced a style of wine..cos Monsieur 'Senior' was in charge....but sons take over and either improve, ruin or change the style completely. Not every Vosne Romanée is the same..there are good and bad Volnays....and the perfect example of the minefield de Bourgogne is Clos Vougeot with at least 80 different owners. What I am trying to say is...those that pleased back then maybe wouldn't today....but a few properties have always been reliable..and checking my wine notes over the last 30 years...Rousseau rarely disappointed.
Domaine Armand Rouseau Gevrey-Chambertin
1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques 2004
Burgundy, France
Enticing aroma on pouring... gentle dancing fruit on the tongue...some marzipan..soft smoky touch...dusty tannins..dry..but a real classy style. A lesser vintage from a top property....and next day there was a definite whiff of ripe bananas
Points 17.5

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Thai, Wine-Nut & Snails

Our eldest daughter and her 'hubby' invited us out to dinner..at a Thai Restaurant in Wiesbaden. The food at the 'Erawan' was superb...no glutamine is used..just fresh ingredients in the original Thai style. At last I have found a place I want to return to...after being often disappointed by many Asian restaurants. As to wine drinking.. I was not expecting very much..I would find something I guessed. The 4 of us ordered starters...and the main courses were a yellow curry with octopus, a green curry with chicken & a red curry with beef....as well as a very good roast duck dish. While all the choosing was going on..I was given the 'wine-list'. A smallish affair..with about 30 wines in all....but...the list was probably the same as when printed 5 years ago. There were a few Bordeaux 2003..a Pape 2001..and various other from 2000..and so on..you get my drift? This was going to be an adventure. I asked the waitress how 'up-to-date' the list was..and she answered..'most of it'.....to which I asked..'and the vintages?.....her face said it all. OK...time to leave the table and check some bottles by the bar....again a few oddities...but nothing that made this 'case' easier. The manager was called..and I explained I was a 'wine-nut'. He inquired what I would like......and I asked for a Riesling Spätlese trocken for the starters...something young... and he was gone and back in a second..with a bottle of Rheingau....Stefan Breuer..2006..in a 'riffled' bottle..new name to me..but at € 24,--...Perfect I said. Now...red...'Bordeaux he asked'?..no no..not good with slightly spicy curries...a Pinot...German or French...and off he went again...to return with the Vosne-Romanee 2006..He sheepishly said..'It is not cheap' (€ 49,--)...but it seemed to say to me...this is what you want..so a deal was done. My daughter said he rarely visited tables in the restaurant....but this evening he popped his head round the corner a few times..and finally made a table visit to inquire about the red.. Now..some would say that I sometimes 'overdo' it when searching for a decent drink..but my experience is that if the restaurant owner/ waiter has anything about him..he should rise to the situation. This manager earned his spurs!
Stefan Breuer Riesling Spätlese trocken R1 2006
Rheingau, Germany A new property...Riesling made in the modern style..soft pachy aroma...slightly smoky..medium weight..very little acidity but nice minerals keeps it interesting..and was a perfect foil for the starters.
Points 16

Domaine Forey Père & Files Vosne-Romanée 2006
Vosne-Romanée, France
Quite masculine and dense on the nose....worried me a little at first..didn't want a big dollop of young tannins to fight the curries...another sniff..yes..I like this..medium sweet fruit....again..perfect for what I need here..nice tannin grip and a good finish. Really enjoyed this....give this blogger a pat on the back for persistence.
Points 16.5

Now..as the blog is also titled...' and Memories'..we have to go back many many years when I was with my wife and her brother in South France....Collioure. One day we decided to go out for an evening meal in a decent restaurant in Perpignon. The day started out with a trip into the mountains..and as it had rained overnight there was loads of snails all over the area. My wife made a make-shift bag and we started to collect them...planning to have them maybe next day. On the way back to our apartment she said we need to know how to 'prepare' them...not the actually 'cooking' preparation...but the cleaning. We stopped of at a store with some cooking books but that did not help as all started out with 'you open the tin'....but then she remembered they have to be given pasta....anyway....back to the apartment..the snails in a pot..covered with kitchen foil.....then out to the restaurant for dinner. My wife and brother-in-law were not drinking wine at the time..so I was on the lookout for a really good Burgundy maybe. Now..once I get a wine-list between my paws I am not to be disturbed. My wife had the orders to choose a starter and main course for me. Oh no....the list was long..but with very few known names...loads of 'villages' wines...a Musigny or two...but no vintage. A wine-list to give me gray hairs. It was now 20 minutes since I had started to search..and still nothing. The starter had been ordered so time was running out. I asked the waiter if I could visit the cellar..to check vintages. No problem..as the wines were stored in a room next to the restaurant. Inside..he turned on the light..and 'poof'..the light bulb went. As he had to serve food..he gave me a box of matches..and left me to it. After a few burnt fingers..still nothing that would make the evening 'perfect'....although there was one that attracted me...vintage 1970 I think...A Chambolle-Musigny..but there was that name 'Piat'.on the label..yes..they of the Piat d'Or wines.....a negociant with a poor reputation. I popped my head round the cellar door to see my wife waving to me..the food was there. Oh well..the Piat it was...and the bottle was promptly opened and served..and.. guess what....it was super.....I didn't make notes..and forget to take the bottle for the label....I was not gonna push my luck any more. Back home to the apartment near the beach...all of us satisfied with the evening. Turn on the light as we entered..and it was like a Hitchcock film. Snails, snails, snails...they were everywhere.....they had 'broken out' of their prison..eaten throught the foil..and were trying to make their getaway. On the walls..the beds...some had even made it to the balcony. We all needed sleep...so we collected all we could see..and in the dark..from the balcony..they were ejected. Does this story have an end?...well.. as we slowly woke next morning..there were excited voices below...two Frenchmen...collecting snails....and planning dinner. Hopefully with an easier choice of wine.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Spanish Friends

Bodegas La Tapada Bodegas
Guitan Godello 'Sobre lias' 2007

Valdeooras, Spain

A great vintage in Northern Spain...after the 'oaked' version..this is a lighter straw colour..smell of wild flowers..fresh herbs..ripe fruit on the palate..this is made 'sur lie'...on the lies..and is soft flavoured and has a charming appeal..
perfect with tomato bread & loads of butter (I know..my wife tells me as well...but hey...pleasures are there to be taken....) along with some marinated octopus & assorted salamis..you still with me?...or have you fainted at the thought of this perfect match?...
Points 16.5.....

Food....simple fare..really..but sometimes that's all that is needed to be happy...






I have been drinking a glass or two of one of my favourite Sherries over the past few days...
always reminds me of some wonderful tapas in Sanlucar de Barrameda...
I open a bottle of this..and try a small glass..then rescrew it and leave it 2 days in the fridge...all that talk about Sherry deteriorating..humbug!..this tastes better day by day...still has the salty dry 'flor' flavour..but shows it's backbone with airing.
Reliable friend...

A Soul Is Saved

After abstaining from drinking the sexy red grape for a few days....and after a long, but successful business day..what better to reward myself..than a good Spätburgunder.
Would it please me?...
Well...great grower..Knipser..from the Pfalz..and a Grosses Gewächs..and an excell
ent year..
sexy lips..shapely hips...oops..I am now into fantasyland.....but hey..it has been a few days.....



Knipser Mergelweg Spätburgunder
Auslese
GG trocken 2005
Pfalz, Germany

Firstly..the 'Photo Shoot' turned out well(click to enlarge)...all that glass...and first impressions of this wine were the earthy, classy dryer style of the Pfalz. I have said it before..this is Pinot for Bordeaux lovers. It spends 10 months in oak...gorgeous berry fruit..wild forest strawberries...the tongue is cloaked in a shroud of velvet..and a long finish. Real class here...
Points 18..........a soul is saved!!!!

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