Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bin-End or Dead-End?

Chateau Tour des Gendres
Bergerac Rouge Moulin des Dames 2000
Bergerac, France

60% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot
BIG dark colour, very concentrated with purple rim; a whiff of cedar and eucalyptus ..then that was gone..otherwise..winey real atrractions; dry palate..medium tannins holding this intact..OK..where is the balancing remains 'dry' til the end..was better with food but not really anything to write home about..
Points 15

Postscript..always a bad sign when it is longer than the notes...
Strange one here..I bought 2 bottles from a reputable merchant...the description of liquorice, vanilla & dark fruits on the nose..and tobacco and sweet oak in the mouth... were nowhere to find..there were notes about a 'massive' wine only just opening..but this feels like one of those that will dry out before it blossoms..I have had 'closed' wines before..but you could feel that there was more to come.....The bottles were 'bin ends'..or maybe 'dead-ends'..anyway..I have had other vintages of this..and there were attractive aromas...soft fruits..
After the first bottle which I drank a few days after delivery( I blamed myself for drinking it maybe while it had 'jet-lag')..I decided to give it another let me down again.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Salwey at Navette

A new chef in a hotel restaurant.....having heard his previous abode had been good..we decided to try his new venture. Hotel Columbia in Rüsselsheim..Restaurant 'Navette'
Well..we were surprised was a superb had to eat a menu..but the food was so light and never had the feeling you were overdoing it. On the left is the menu card.. you can choose 4 or 6 courses in what order you wish.
Excellent atmosphere and service.
The wine list I had viewed a couple of days before
and on the afternoon before we went..I called Herr Salwey to ask if he had drunk the chosen wine recently. 'Three weeks ago' he said..'it was excellent'

Salwey Oberrotweiler Kirchberg Spätburgunder
Spätlese trocken 1999
Kaiserstuhl Baden, Germany

Medium deep colour with orange rim; super aroma, all you ask for in a ripe version of my favourite grape...smoky, spices..reserved elegance; perfect weight in the mouth..every sip a real pleasure..
I drank the bottle ALONE (Mum & Wife were on the bubbly)...It went down so well and at it's peak now..and I'm gonna give it....

Points 18

The lamb was perfectly

Something Old, Something New

A mature woman and a young wine..or would you prefer it the other way round? (not sure my wife would so we'll stick with the first version.)
Anyway.. an 83 year old wine and a 19 year old girl..would never work!
Took my mum, who is here visiting me, to our local Bistro..where they cook fresh food at reasonable prices..and..and.. I can take my own wine and pay corkage.

Bodegas Torremilanos Cyclo 2003
Ribera del Duero, Spain
Tempranillo 95% from 100 year old vines with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot.
Deep purple; big meaty wine with power; opened in glass but still holding on to most of what's in there, iron fist; rich and full, dark fruits with a tannic bite, well-balanced...could be more attractive..but that's the style..a Parker wine..and the 2004 is supposed to be better.
Points 17

Points 20

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy 25th Dom - Vintage Champagne

When do you drink Champagne? When you are celebrating.....seems to be the general usage.
Every time I have drunk a good bottle..I threaten myself to buy more but never do. I get the odd bottle as a present..that's about it. I do, however, have 3 bottles of Dom Perignon in the cellar. Vintages 1982. 1985 & 1993. These age longer than any other Champagne house along with Krug. My most memorable Champagne memory is a Magnum of Krug..drank with a friend about 20 years ago..accompanied by 36 Oysters..extravagant I know..but try it one time in your life!
Anyway..the total of Dom's has been reduced by one..was I celebrating..well..sort of.. my mum is staying a little longer with us, my soccer team ( Manchester City ) is second in the English Premier league, the newspaper article was a success..and..well..
the bottle is now 25 years old!
Moët et Chandon Dom Perignon 1982
Champagne, France

When to drink this style..Now or Never could be the answer..maybe this was a few years past it's best..but if you check the expert's notes..even in the mid 90's they were saying it was just reaching it's peak. was it..

Cork had lost the thickness one associates with Champagne..but was firm..and came out with a plop rather than a pop! Very good colour, golden..still a lively pour..small fine bubbles...which disappeared fairly quickly; smoky, touch of oak,..some honey; very good mouthful..again cream..with an elegant prickle reminding you this is still a Champagne, no sign of deteriation even after 90 minutes. As I divulged each glass (slim Champagne glass..see photo )..the wine changed..sometimes I liked it more..
How do you mark it?....some drinkers would say it is TOO mature..the French rarely drink their Champagne very old..the Brits tend to lay them down..even a normal bottle will be given a year or two..from experience this does improve many a 'Fizzy' one. was a fine bottle..very interesting..and at times very
Points 17.5 – 18

Perfect companion for Champagne is smoked salmon...
we had wild Irish salmon and some smoked trout.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Press Release!! A Wine Lover is Discovered.

I was contacted by the local paper a few months ago. They were starting a series 'Valuable Collections'. They had found me through a wine merchant. A meeting (in my cellar) was arranged.
A young lady arrived (at my age they are all young) and a photographer. She paid attention (Chateau Lafite could have been a sweet white wine to her) and as the article has no real mistakes..she did a pretty good job. It appeared Saturday 15th September in the newspaper. I only knew about it when a couple of people in the town made some remarks (Hello Film Star!)
The general translation tells of how I came to be a wine lover. After coming to Germany in 1975 I wanted to learn the language ( and some money ) so I started to sell wine. I knew NOTHING about it! Liebfrauenmilch was all I had ever drunk in England. I learned quickly.. and spent $$$ (actually..all my pocket money.. as I was working in the company by now) drinking some really bad wines. One day I drank a Bordeaux, Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafite 1973 and gave it 17 points. Things got better.......Over the next 20 years I drank, tasted, sipped all sorts and wrote notes. The labels were removed..which meant the bath tub often had 10 bottles swimming in it to remov the **** things.
All were pasted in my 'Tasting Books'...scrap books which now have pride of place in my cellar. Some wonderful memories there. Mid 90's I decided I had paid my dues.. I was just gonna drink the stuff. I did notes if I was asked to..but never kept a record.
Then blogging came along.. which inspired me to start to record my drinking habit again. With all the modern need to use the bathroom. One wine I had mentioned in the interview was the Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947. I mentioned I had paid about Euros 150 for it (was not mentioned in the article )..all that was stated was the rough estimate at time of drinking..about Euros 2000,-- I guess that sells papers....and sounds more interesting. Another wine mentioned was the Chateau Leoville Barton 1871 which was the oldest I had drunk. The article states 400 bottles in my cellar...not quite that much.. and I guess most readers will think they are all hundreds of dollars in price. Not so..again..makes for better reading.
One funny postscript..during the morning that the article appeared..I got a phone call.
'Hello, I saw in the papers you are a wine lover..I have found a wine in my cellar.. 1961 Vintage.. I wanted to ask you if it is still OK' heart skipped a beat..“Long lost Bordeaux found and shared with Barry Fowden“..this would be a great story for the blog. 'Is it a Bordeaux?' I asked..' is it red?' I continued. 'No' came the reply 'it is a German White!!' My suggestion was he phoned again with the exact details..but unless it was a Trockenbeerauslese..he should not build up any hopes. Maybe I should start a hotline for amateur sit in a restaurant..the sommelier is scaring you phone the hotline...start of a career to help finance my hobby maybe.. I doubt it.

Below the scanned article..or you can find the internet version HERE

Conkers And Wine

Autumn is coming..and things are falling from trees.
CONKERS to you! I thought a handful would be a
nice partner for the photo shoot( sounds good that...). However..too cool to eat and drink out there.
My wife prepared some top-end mince meat...
with a red wine sauce and some fresh mushrooms.
Dual coloured Pasta..and a soft wine was needed.

Gnägy Schweigener Sonnenberg
Spätburgunder 'S' 2004
Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Two tasting notes..the wine needed airing.
Tasting Note 1 (after 20 Minutes)
Medium deep, no pale Pinot colour here; nose showing elegance but reserved, concentrated, burnt aroma..nothing more; the palate more forthcoming..juicy cherry fruit, soft tannins..not as 'thick' as many Pinots.
Points 16
Tasting Note 2 (after one hour)
Nose had opened..showing sweet fruit and the flavour had filled out, good mouthful..a quite complex wine for this price range (13.5 Euros)
Points 17

Friday, September 14, 2007

Spanish Chew

Divus 2003 Bodegas Bleda
Jumilla, Spain
5% Merlot in the mix..which is what Merlot came into this world for..and in this the perfect foil for the tannic Monastrell (95%). Perfect hand-selected grapes from 30-year old vines..they spend 18 months in new French oak barrels. how is it after all this care...
PURPLE!!'ll scare the baby if you smile after drinking this; animal aromas, meaty, dry port, chocolate and a whiff of the alcohol(14%); softish opening..then the tannins hit you..plenty to chew here....but as is the case..the second glass is easier..your palate has adapted and the air is helping, sweet fruit trying to emerge from the power tannins, good finish.
Points 17.....bound to earn more in the future...try decanting it for 12 hours.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sushi Shirt

Not been drinking many 'new' wines
recently as my mum is over from the UK...a visit we have now extended. She has been fed various German dishes and a few 'first-timers' and she is now dashing up and down the stairs. He daily injection of Botox seems to be working..and the Oil of Olay company have been in touch! A sprightly 83..she is pictured here beside..or should it be inside..our 'man-eating red bottle-washer' tree.
And so to the wine for the evening...this is seldom for me..a Pinot Noir from Alsace....the last one I tasted was...well..centuries ago!
I still have 2 bottles of Hugel's 1985 which I will open one day (liar!)..but am afraid I will be poisoned..or maybe I will find a gorgeous soft Pinot..which will fade after the first gulp.
Anyway..back to this one.

We were eating Sushi & Sashimi ( say.. you don't eat raw fish )..look dear readers.. I am not holding a piece of live cod..killing it..and tearing it to pieces bit by bit. Sushi is probably one of the most healthy types of food there is. Salmon sashimi was part of the selection..and I like to try light reds with some fish( the white wine hadn't arrived to be honest ). If you are going to have the wasabi..then stick to Riesling or Gewurztraminer or a Condrieu.

The photo on the left was my 'starter'..while waiting for the Sushi..small filled peppers and dried tomatoes in oil.

I had ordered a mixed case of wines...and decided to try this 'cheap' Pinot ..9 Euros...from an up and coming vineyard in Alsace.

Nicolas Wittmann now runs the vineyard..with father André always there to help and advise.
André Wittmann Pinot Noir 2004
Mittelbergheim, Alsace, France
Terrible label...
the label colour you wouldn't be seen dead in (not true.I have a shirt like this somewhere).
This resided in small oak barrels from Burgundy..and spent 6 months in this temporary home. Medium deep gradual colour; dusty nose, developed sweet raspberry..but that was reserved ( the merchant's notes had said 'unbelievable bouquet' of us has a problem!); flavoury, elegant...easy quaffing wine..just enough to keep me interested.
Points 14.5

PS...I get asked why all the wines I drink are between 16-18 points...well...I am not gonna buy them if they are not!... this was a one-off try...

PPS..I found the shirt..looks better on than off..

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hedonistic or Head-On-A-Stick?

My other hobby is music..soul music to be exact. A friend is going to open a restauarant and asked me to put together some music to be played in the new venture. I did it with pleasure..and a few days later he thanked me with a present...this half-bottle from his private cellar
Jasper Hill Georgia's Paddock
Heathcote Syrah 1998
Victoria, Australia

Dense purple-red..remember..this is now 9 years old; aromas of chocolate, mocca and mixed spices and liquorice; my first thought after tasting was...dry port..and alcohol..I checked the bottle..15.5% !!!!..prunes and plums on the palate, dry tannins, good long finish. It was an experience which I would accept as a present..but buy it...I doubt it....and I was thankful it was only a half-bottle. I guess some would call this 'hedonistic'.I have never been a great lover of the UPFRONT Australian style of reds...a Syrah from the Rhone would have a better balance and certainly more elegance.
Points 17.5....because it is a fine wine..just not the style I want to give more points to....

Prieler Pinot Noir 2004

Prieler Pinot Noir 2004
Burgenland, Austria

Red brick in colour; perfumed aromas,
red cherries, elegant; juicy palate..
fruit driven wine, good acidity,
trace of liquorice, sleek but plenty
of bite and good finish.
Points 17

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Chateau Les Forts De Latour 1970

As a child I ate good old English food (no comments yet..please).
My mum cooked well...and we ate the traditional foods. When I got married and moved to Germany..I was lucky to have a wife who was a great there were no withdrawal symptoms that many 'sons' have to go through. One of my childhood favourites was Steak & Kidney pie.My wife got the recipe from my mum..and has made it in her style over the years.As my mum was was time to see and taste whether she would pass the test.(not really..they get on so well..and my mum knows that Eva is a great cook).
Back to the traditional English food..which has been the butt of many jokes since the motorway restaurants opened. Stews, pies and other 100 year old menus can be a delight..if cooked properly with fresh food...and a great marriage with fine wines.

What to drink..well..a 100 years ago it would have been a Bordeaux.. so why not tonight...I thought I had a bottle of Latour 1970 until recently..then saw it to be the baby brother..made from younger wines..and I have drank various vintages in my early (wine-wise) years. The 1971 on a wine list in a Bordeaux restaurant.. was consumed nightly.
The wine was opened one hour in advance and decanted. The only way to open older bottles is with a hand screwpull or similar..
I removed the lead capsule..which seemed to be sitting into the bottle a little!.....
and with good reason..where was the cork?
It was halfway down the neck showing well into the shoulder. On no.. am I gonna get a bottle of vinegar.? In this case the cork-screw could have been any long as it helped push the cork into the bottle. The decanter and strainer had been prepared so I pushed the cork into the bottle letting the wine flow through the strainer into the decanter. The aroma I caught allayed my fears..all was well.

Chateau Les Forts De Latour 1970
Pauillac, Bordeaux

The wine was holding up particularly well, clear deep dark with an orange rim; usual tobacco, cigar box, cedary nose..'manly' Pauillac. Full of life, mature, soft, earthy flavours..lean and good acidity. This is from younger vines and had a greenness which has faded. Very good..and at best with the food.
Points 17.5

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tapas and Wine Guzzlers

Regular readers will know I love Tapas. Well..we recently found a Tapas Restaurant nearby..and had been there my mum was over and the kids and relatives all wanted to meet her again..we decided this was the place to go. Everyone can eat and drink at their speed and try various foods.I think we surprised them how much my family can eat!!
The wine list is short..2 whites and 6 reds I think...not so much a wine list as an addition at the end of the drinks card. What is good about Spanish Wines tho..even the ordinary ones give pleasure for a good price..especially in restaurants like this. 4 bottles for 80 very good value!

Mantel Blanco 2005
Bodegas Alverez y Diaz
Rueda Verdejo, Spain
Verdejo & Sauvignon Blanc.
This is pungent stuff, filled with intense herbaceous, tropical fruit notes and
crisp mouthwatering acidity.
Purity of flavor and a soft yet vivid texture.

Points 16.5

Vegaval Plata Tinto Reserva 2001
Miguel Calatayud
Valdepenas, Spai

Nice medium intense purple.
Vanilla nose with wood and light spice.
Rich in the mouth with a high acidity
and big fruit. The tannins are medium
in weight with a dry finish.
This spends 12 months in American oak,
Points 16.5

Senorio de P. Pecina Crianza 1999
Bodega Hermanos Peciña
Rioja, Spain
95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, 2% Garnacha
Cherry color with edge orange garnet.
Nose a little flat. Well balanced and
round with a creamy texture
Points 16

Perez Irazu Crianza 2001
Bodegas Irazu,
Rioja, Spain
Soft and easy..full of ripe fruit..
by this time..I was flagging a bit...
Points 16