Monday morning I set off from the North...and the 4 hour journey of mostly motorway comprised of 3 hours with roadworks....but the last hour was more fluent.
I stayed with friends Mike and Gil.....and on Monday evening there was a rendezvous at a nearby pub with all the old gang. Mike, knowing my love for wine...had gotten a copy of the wine-list. It did not make for good reading...again the old problem...no vintages, no property details, etc...but there again...they sell BEER to most visitors...although if you offer any drink..surely you should try to be more professional...but I was just glad to get to see the old faces. It had been 7 years since my last visit....
Bristol is where I spent my bachelor days.....after leaving home at 20. I was part of the 'swinging' 60's and the 'sexy' 70's.
Wonderful times.....parties...singing live in pubs...dj-ing as well as the day job. How the hell did I have the energy?
The photos are of the 2 places I used to live in...still standing...if those 'bedroom' walls could talk!
I certainly never drank wine.....beer...that was it. A bottle of Blue Nun was about all that passed my lips.
Tuesday...I drove around...checking old haunts. BOUGHT SOME WINE.
Tuesday evening was spent at 'home'..Gil & I watched soccer (Manchester City) on TV...I didn't touch a drop of anything...
Wednesday...again, I drove around. BOUGHT SOME WINE.
Played Snooker with an old friend Peter Small.
In the evening I met up with a friend John Jackson... who I had played music with...in the early 70's...on Saturdays and Sundays...sat in the pubs...playing for free beer....happy days.
We went to a restaurant called 'Bordeaux Quay'...down by the harbour in Bristol. It had been recommended for it's wine-list in a recent Decanter magazine.
I had been there a day before to check the list (as one does.....well...this one does!)..and had seen a Grüner Veltliner from Nikolaihof....and also a Pinot Noir from New Zealand. On arriving...when asked if we wanted the wine-list...I just reeled off the 2 wines. The waiter returned, sheepishly, to say that the GV was no longer available. Grrrrrrr!...a quick puruse...and a substitute was found.
Albariño Viña del Alba 2006
Riax Baixas, Spain
I wanted something spicy but delicate...and this fitted the bill. Peaches and apples...touch of citrus...but with a soft layer to please all the food.
Hunters Pinot Noir 2007
Marlborough, New Zealand
This week my 'substitute' for German Pinot was going to be 'down under'..New Zealand's version.. This was nicely priced in the restaurant...actually...I was a little worried it would be thin. Not the case....cherry fruit...earthy but soft on the palate...medium-bodied....I even had some liquorice...enjoyable.
The food was good...but to be honest...we could have eaten anything...as the conversation with John & Jane was infectious. We memorized..laughed..and took a taxi ..to end a fine evening.
Thursday...played cards...Piquet... with Gil in the morning...later...BOUGHT SOME WINE.
Robin & Isabel...who I had met with on Monday....called and ask to take me out to dinner. I asked if I should take a bottle with me...'no..we have booked a wine-bar' Hmmmm....see...my reputation is ahead of me. They collected me and we drove to Clevedon..about a 20 minute drive from Bristol.
'The Cellar' is a Bistro, wine bar and off-licence all in one and was originally a chemist’s and still has the original counter, and drawers with legends such as Poison, Opium and Wax writ large. The menu is simple, with continental tapas, salads, jacket potatoes and pastas and a 100 different wines from around the world. The list of (mainly locally sourced) beers and ciders is no less impressive, with over 100 to choose from.
There are the usual tables and chairs...but also a couple of couches. Very attractive and inviting..rather like a living-room with the wine cellar incorporated. The wines were spread around...you could buy and take...or choose and pay the corkage if you drank there. A great idea. Robin said to choose the wines....and I held back...but nevertheless we had two pleasant wines. We kept choosing Tapas....and a surprise evening ended with laughter and memories.
Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir 2008
Marlborough, New Zealand
Tinpot Hut is a new venture with winemaker Fiona Turner. She has spotted the potential of a new vineyard area called Blind River, which lies south east of Seddon. The site is warm, but very windy and grape growing wouldn't be viable if not for the Blind River Irrigation Scheme which was established in 2003.
Crushed red fruit...cherry & raspberry..dry style...tangy...touch of smoke...juicy...
It was perfect with the food...as was the
Nauta Monastrell Crianza 2005
Wine is made from old vine grapes...from the Monstrell variety of Villena in the area of Alicante.
Following the Pinot...this has a little more body and fire...medium tannins and decent fruit...plums...
raisins..and a trace of vanilla. Still room to grow...
Friday..last day..BOUGHT SOME WINES!!!!
I decided to visit the Wine Merchants 'Reid Wines' in Hallatrow...south of Bristol. They are no longer in the Mill...which looked cold, wet & nothing like I remember. No doubt the upkeep was the problem. I knew Bill Baker well..he sadly passed away two years ago. The company continued with Dadid Boobbyer taking over the reins. I used to buy rare gems for years.....old Burgundies...60's & 70's....some bottled by the legendary Bristol Merchants 'Averys'. The cellar is organized chaos...they still buy from private cellars...I was given a list...but would have been there hours..so I said to David...give me 5 Burgundies with age....that might give pleasure still...and not break the bank. We will wait and see if the risk was worth it....
Friday evening I took Mike & Gil to dinner..as a thank-you...'Culinaria'...which is run by Stephen & Judy Markwick.
Dampt Chablis 2007 should have been more approachable...as the grower's style is more open. It was not forthcoming with a touch of metal...not easy...so we quickly disregarded it and chose a Soave...can't remember the property...but it was soft, round...and didn't hurt....
All I was interested in was the red....
Felton Road Pinot Noir 2007
Central Otago, New Zealand
No disappointment here...lovely forthcoming aroma...class Pinot...spices and brambly...strawberry & cherry...complex.......silky on the palate...oh yes...a good 'last wine of the holiday'.
The food was OK....I was disappointed in the presentation....it was rather like a Sunday lunch.....the plate was filled..and a large chunk of cabbage as vegetable....it was enormous..filling a third of the plate. Mike & Gil had more luck..and said it was all delicious.
Back home...early to bed......
Saturday morning early....set off...through the Eurotunnel (litres of water above your head)..and arrived home after a 900 kilometer drive.