Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jack & The Beanstalk

An Austrian Pinot before we head for Baden...
Prieler Pinot Noir 2005
Burgenland, Austria
Dried cherry aroma......some black pepper....quite soft on entry...prickly..like a strawberry bush....the tannins still dominant and spiky acidity..softened up the next day.....which bodes well for a future..a terroir Pinot.
Points 16.75










The photo is of our flower plant....which was small, short and nothing special in May. Since then it has grown and grown..and has been trying to 'mate' with the growing vines that are on the building....so...we have added stakes to tell it which way to go. It is now hitting the heights...heading for the heavens. I always think of my childhood when I see it..Jack & The Beanstalk
And talking of heaven....our little heaven on earth is where we will be for 7 days!!! Rebstock in Waldulm.
Great food, great wines (I'll try not to drink a Spätburgunder EVERY day!). The weather forecast sounds good...so we will be walking the vineyards.....

Friday, August 28, 2009

No Wine, Blame Your Wife

Au Bon Climat Hildegard 2004
Santa Maria Valley, California, U.S.A.
Much as I love Jim Clenenden's wines....some of the bottles have a large punt at the bottom and weigh a lot..and..we once compared them to a normal bottle..3 times heavier if I remember.This Hildegard is in a VERY dark bottle...no way to see which film star is hiding behind this glass. Mind you...it does have it's amusing moments. Having tried a Chardonnay a couple of years ago...I carried the bottle (staggered) to the fridge to try the rest next day. The following evening I opened it and started to slowly pour a glass....the first of 2 glasses I hoped. Nada....there came a few drops. I asked my wife if she had been using my 'top' Chard for the kitchen..or maybe the cook had been at it herself (denied). What is was of course was..the weight and the darkness. Unless you can guess what you have drunk....you'll end up having to open another bottle of something....and obviously the wine had found a good home in the form of my stomach.This 'Hildegard' is Jim's Hommage to Charlemagne..and there's no denying the likeness...that's if you have been lucky enough to drink any Corton Charlemagne. The original is VERY expensive and takes years to develope......so you have two choices...you have to be patient..buy young and lay it down for 10 years...but who leaves whites in the cellar that long..or buy it at a top price if you are a millionaire from the U.S or Japan. I first tried 'Hildegard' over a year ago..and was very impressed..Pinot Gris meets Chardonnay. Very similiar to it's big SIS from France.....I decided to leave 2 bottles in the cellar (that's just over a year..just think..10 years!! for a Corton). Miss Hildegard is starting to smell like an old Corton...which doesn't sound appetizing when said like that. Give her some air..and the slight mustiness disappears...creamy texture...but becoming an acquired taste. Methinks the next bottle should be drunk now...or forgotten for 10 years to be the 'surprise' wine at some obscure tasting.
Points 16.75

Quickies

Quickies.....in all parts of life......are a necessity......and every picture tells a story...
Ökonomierat Rebholz von Muschelkalk Riesling Spätlese Trocken 2008
Pfalz, Germany

Loved the 2007.....this is awkward...and needs time....but is classy...
16.5








Kirchmayr Grüner Veltliner
Fass 5 'Strasser Stangl' 2007

Kamptal, Austria
Fresh and spicy...dried stones....overnight..it filled out..showed better....opulent and juicy...
Points 16.25



Vinas De Gain Artadi 2006
Rioja, Spain
Safe.....from start to finish..but a bit too soft....is this being made more consumer friendly in it's youth....
Points 16






Gaia Thalassitis 2008
Santorini, Greece
SEXY BLACK CORK!!!! The wine...pale yellow colour..touch of green...chalky, smoky nose..dry...citrus..and a touch too austere..lively...and intense minerals.
Points 16

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Memories of Beau Rivage and a Greek Viognier











No doubt about it...the best Viognier is grown in Condrieu..on the Rhône....
I used to stop over at the Beau Rivage Restaurant..on my way to Portugal. They have an extensive selection...the view from the restaurant over the WIDE river....the sun going down..and a top Condrieu..this is a moment to savour.
I still try an odd bottle...but the best are really for special moments...Guigal 'La Doriane' & Cuilleron 'Les Chaillets' are memorable wines....(both 18 pointers)
So..once in a while I try a 'stranger'...Australia...and the South of France....have offered good examples...and Greece has started....
Gerovassiliou Viognier 2008
Epanomi, Greece
Yellow gold....gentle, exotic smell...not the overblown version you get in many cheap versions of the grape...nicely done...is there some Chardonnay in here?...has a soft creamy texture on the palate..after an hour there was a spicy edge...well-made..
Points 16.25

Friday, August 21, 2009

Some Big Fat Greek Wines

If you are reading this in the morning..Calimera....later on...Calispera....you see..I did learn something on my Big Fat Greek Holiday. If only wines like those below had been available then.....
Another plus point is that the labels are becoming more understandable. Fellow blogger Alex maybe has never had problems..but the rest of the world needs a consumer friendly front label..the unreadable stuff can be put on the back.
Neither of the wines would have me ordering a case...but they are really interesting...something different...the local grapes making a change....
Biblia Chora Ovilos 2007
Macedonia, Greece
Aroma of juicy peaches( the Sémillon)..and a shot of grapefruit..citrus(Assyrtiko)...a core of minerals..and a dollop (lot) of tropical fruit. The oak just hovers...ripe....like a white Graves(Bordeaux)..exchange the Sauvignon Blanc with Assyrtiko...excellent weight and texture..
Points 16.5





Gaia Estate 2005
Peloponnes, Greece
The property was founded in 1994 by Leon Karatsalos und Yiannis Paraskevopoulos.
Dark plums..some cherry...cool & reserved at first...a mention for the 'legs' that filled the glass
a juicy texture.....fresh and lively with a very smooth palate..the grainy tannins just stroking the fruit...the finish was long.
Points 16.5

Monday, August 17, 2009

Italian Restaurant And No Italian Wines

You would think I never drank Italian wines...and to be honest...they have been scarce on the blog. After the previous post of matching other wines with the food...here I am again.....same theme. The reason for our visit to 'Restaurant Ambiente'...was for our regular meetings..where I bring the wines..and Robert & Volker comment, guess, praise..and slurp. Good Italian food with an Austrian, Spanish & German Wine. I'll have Signor Berlusconni chasing me soon...

Willi Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner
Käferberg 2008

Kamptal, Austria
This one had them struggling to define...white Chateauneuf-du-Pape...which I could identify with...has that same style and feel...but what gets this plus points is that lively, mineraly, smokiness. The nose offers tropical fruit with some honey...then the slightly peppery entry on the palate...just lies so beautifully on the tongue...is multi-layered with interest...very good indeed..and could age well. Perfect marriage with the marinated Salmon.
Points 17.25


Two reds followed....covered with lovely tin foil..and a casual remark to the waiter..'serve the Chilean first followed by the German'....(you can't give these guys any help and anyway...part of my clues was correct....but as you will see..they didn't believe the 2nd one)
Bodegas Pinord +7 2006
Priorat, Spain
This spends 12 months in oak...the mix is Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah. Very good intense nose...loads of Spanish character...full and quite complex...and a soft mouthful....it was very good...Robert guessed Rhone grapes.. which is partly correct...Volker pinpointed Priorat....which was very good...they are getting better these two...
Points 16.5

and it would have stayed long
er in the memory if not for the second wine.

Knipser Cuvee X 2003
Pfalz, Germany
The reason I have this wine...I was in a restaurant on the Mosel..and had ordered a half-bottle of Lynch-Bages 2005. The waitress said it was sold out...so I ordered the only other half of red on the list. I hardly took a second look as she opened and poured. The glass to the nose and my words were...''Sie haben doch den Lynch-Bages gefunden?'' (You found the Lynch-Bages?)...it was impressive on that evening..so back home I bought 3 bottles...2 have gone...pre-blog days..or made no notes. Anyway...here we are with the last bottle..and that 'wow' affect. Gorgeous nose..intense red and black berries...absolutely perfect...classic & elegant on the palate..perfect balance..no signs of the hot vintage.... This Bordeaux blend would knock some of the top Chateau to one side in a tasting...This spends 28 months in French oak..spices and smoke..and some tobacco. Ready..but nowhere near at the end....must buy some more..and also try the 2005....excellent.
Points 17.75
Robert & Volker never had a chance....Mouton-Rothschild??

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Wedding Anniversary, Two Pizzas And A Greek Wine

Out for dinner on Saturday at one of our favourite restaurants.......and below some of the delights. A Fish Salad, half a Lobster, Turbot Fillets, Pasta with Truffel, Duck Breasts with Dates and Almonds (house speciality) and a prepared (for what I ask) Guinea Fowl. I take my own wine..as I know the wines (all Italian) on the list. The previous two visits it has been a Pinot Noir...both times wines I have already tasted...and they seemed to suffer....so I decided this time to take the Oscar Tobia...and with the extra peppery style..it was perfect. Italian food with a Spanish Wine.






















Óscar To
bía Reserva 2004
Rioja, Spain

Intense minerals...sour cherries and plums...a trace of the oak...a wonderful easy feeling on the palate..fills the mouth..roasted tones...this is 90% Tempranillo and 1
0% Otras and spends 21 months in French and Hungarian oak...but no worries about soft sweet woodiness..this is 'new Spain'.....wonderful texture and a long finish.... Points 17.75


Monday....our wedding anniversary...3
3 years....but Monday is a 'Bad Restaurant Day' ...most are closed..and it is August..so they are almost all on holiday anyway...hence the reason we went out on Saturday to celebrate. So what did we do on Monday...well..I collected 2 pizzas...and opened a bottle of Greek wine...and we gazed at the flowers I gave to Eva-Maria.



Kir Yianna Ramnista 2005
Naoussa, Greece

I look at the bottl
e...14.5% ..but this is never a worry..the wine is very well balanced...and doesn't ever appear heavy. It spends 12 months in French and American oak. The grape..Xynomavro (try saying that 10 times without breathing)... Violets, plums and a healthy leather on the nose...interesting...the palate was like drinking the olive trees...wish I'd found wines like this when I was in Greece...many, many years ago...an earthy feel to it....lively acidity...again..interesting...there is a chewy tannic predominance...but this is what makes it attractive...Italian food..this time with a Greek Wine. What next..Paella and Barolo or Moussaka and Valpolicella?
Points 16.25

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Life On The Ocean Waves

Many years ago we spent a holiday in Crete, Greece. We drove by car to Italy..then took a cruise ship (car in the hold)..leaving it after 3 days.....spending 4 weeks on the Greek island..then joining the ship (called The Poseidon) again for 4 days back to Italy. The return journey was eventful. I had taken my guitar..to strum on the beach....and as there were shows every evening I was asked to 'perform'. I was given special permission to collect the instrument from my car...then I practiced with the ship's band..and if I remember rightly..sang one of my own compositions..and a version of the Dubliner's Whiskey In The Jar. Next day....there were some nice compliments...and then I was asked to enter for the Mr.Poseidon contest. Only with my wife saying I should..did I agree. There were lots of Italians on the ship....but I somehow managed to win (Number 34..please come in)...maybe the tan swung it for me. You may think that was it...wrong! There was to be a cabaret where a bunch of guys were asked to take part. Myself..and a few Italians spent an afternoon learning our steps. It entailed a dance in old fashioned bathing costumes..and various other movements. We laughed all afternoon until it hurt. The lady in charge said we should not go overboard (bad pun)..as the captain was very strict. We threatened to place bananas inside our costumes...she almost died! One of the Italians had to dress up in drag (as a lady)...unforgettable as the photo confirms.
What has all this to do with wine....well..no doubt I drank some on the ship...not much on the Crete island though..as most of it was dreadful and oxidized. As you will see below..things are changing in Greece. Anyway...I no doubt had a bottle of Boutari wine...and one of the islands we passed was Santorini. See....what a way to show old holiday snaps and talk about a recent wine.




Boutari Santorini 2008
Santorini, Greece
If 'Godello' is the secret white of Spain..then Santorini whites are the equivalent in Greece. The grape is Assyrtiko..and is 100% in this example. Before we start..this cost around € 9,--. My good friend Robert said I would never be satisfied with a wine under 10 Euros...but I think we were talking about reds. Recent Spanish, German and Austrian whites in this price range have been eye-opening. Boutari's wine is very citrus fruit..a lemon-curd pie comes to mind...this sees no oak...5 months in stainless steel..flinty..a gentle smokiness and plenty of minerals..good texture..no pushover..and as I said..very good value.
Points 16.25

















and for those who have strong nerves...
the Italian Drag Queen!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Green Ain't Always Green

How should wines be reviewed...if you are at a Bordeaux tasting and one of the wines is good...but not typically Bordeaux..do you rate it less. With Grüner Veltliner there seems to be 3 categories.............the 'basic'..at around
€ 10,--...then a more complex example..and of course the top wines..Smaragd. These start around € 20,-- . Smaragd wines are made from the ripest grapes and must have an alcohol content of at least 12 %. They are full-bodied wines have excellent aging potential, sometimes of 20 years or more.






Johann Schmelz Grüner Veltliner Steinertal Smaragd 2008
Wachau, Kamptal, Austria
Yellow green in colour...smell of yellow apples and some pineapple....a velvety feel on the palate..with stone fruits coming to mind..and a touch of citrus. Certainly a good wine....but the spiciness that I searched for..is not there.
Points 16.75
Now..to explain what I mean...the 2nd example....

Franz Hirzberger Grüner Veltliner
Axpoint Smaragd 2007

Wachau, Kamptal, Austria
Medium yellow..and a more typical GV aroma..spices..even a trace of gooseberry?...honey.....a flavour of 'green minerals'..bouncing over the tongue...quite rich..but dry...and the spices continue.....good finish...and just what I expected...
Points 17.25

Dinner At Chez Barry

I get many emails....maybe all down to the blog....some asking to advertise...some wanting to exchange links...and occasionally a strange one. Here a recent example:
Hello,
I am Mr.Mario Sabetine from United State of America. I want to book Dinner for 25 guests from my Department arriving from U.S.A to your country. All the 25 guests will all come for Dinner October 26th, 27th 28th 29th and 30th 2009 by 8.00pm each day. Get back to me with your Menu if there is availability so that I can forward my credit card informations for the deposit payment for our Dinner.
1)N.B--Do you offer accommodation?I need 2 DBL or 4 single rooms for four of my guests?
2)Can you make a wine tasting arrangements for us?We intend to come for wine tasting on the following dates October26th,27th and 28th 2009 by 12 pm everyday.
I wait for your urgent response.Mr.Mario Sabetine

I haven't told my wife yet that we need a few more plates.....and we will have to buy a few more mattresses(what seemed strange...all those people..only a few rooms...6 to a bed without telling the management?).....as to wine....they ain't getting into my cellar. The house wine is on offer at $ 100,-- a bottle...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wake The Piano Player

I first tried Becker's 2005 Sankt Paul last September...and was very impressed...I bought 3 bottles..and opened another (impatient lover of wine)..it was not special....worrying in fact..but maybe an off-bottle. After the recent 2006 version where I stated it was said to be better than 2005...to which Lyle commented..'Bold Words'...I decided to open another bottle of the '05...with the memory of the 2006 still with me.
Friedrich Becker Spätburgunder Schweigener
Sankt Paul Grosses Gewächs trocken 2005
Pfalz, Germany
This is just so SOFT on the nose...can't remember a wine with so much cream and vanilla...the palate is also very pure cream...just a gentle tannic wall...but it seems to be lacking....maybe a touch more backbone...I felt like giving the Hotel piano player a nudge..to wake him...It has multi-developed over the last 6 months. The 2005 is a very 'customer friendly' vintage..and this is soft & silky...but the 2006 is turning out to be a bit of a grower....and if I had compared side-by-side...then this would have been 2nd best.
Points 17.5

The food was a filet steak and the vegetable & sliced potatoes from the oven

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