TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



France

Posted by Julian 19 Aug 2010

When it comes to french reds - and as I've said before, you can't be a real wine snob unless you can take a sip and say "ahh, zees, my friends, is terroir..." - I've had the distinct feeling for some time now that France is being rolled up for me from south to north. First to go was the southern Rhone. Done. I can't stand this tepid heaviness any more. Then, the more generic Languedoc blends followed suit. Bo-ring. With a lukewarm Gauby experience recently, I've even become doubtful about the Roussillon. So what about Faugères, one of the more characterful Languedoc appellations? Won't say "last try" yet, but let's just say there's some pressure on Alquier, by common agreement one of the very best names in all of southern France.

Posted by Torsten 14 Aug 2010

Wine, it seems, is still getting more and more alcoholic, a trend to which climate change happily contributes. After all, there is not much that producers can do against rising temperatures. Or is there? Gérard Gauby, a Roussillon winemaker, seems to believe they can. A decade ago he switched to biodynamic winemaking and successfully developed methods to reduce the alcoholic strength of his wines.
I had a 2005 Gauby sitting in my wine rack for a while now, until Julian kicked me into action by commenting on Gauby's 2004: 'Aromatics of overripe plum and dried herbs, but fairly imprecise and unfocused, with sweet and oxidised port notes that didn't work for me. I think very highly of Gauby, but this one doesn't seem to age well. Or maybe a reminder that "natural" wines are at all times capricious, moody fellows?' After reading this it seemed high time to drink up my 2005, in case it had suffered a similar fate. Had it?

Posted by Torsten 03 Aug 2010

When 2009 came to an end, for some reason the Wine Rambler got infected with the idea of developing new year's resolutions. Among the ones Julian came up with was to 'try more from lesser-known French wine regions like the Jura or the Loire Valley'. Traditionally, I leave France more to Julian, but his recent excitement about a Loire Chenin Blanc made me memorise the word 'Vouvray'. Vouvray is a region of the Loire Valley where they specialise in Chenin Blanc, wines that can rival Riesling in terms of their potential to age for decades. So when (following a phase of drinking much Pinot Blanc, Riesling and some Chardonnay) I came across a Vouvray that was recommended by trustworthy wine merchants Philglas & Swiggot, I did not hesitate and grabbed their last bottle. Lucky me, I can now say.

Posted by Torsten 16 Jul 2010

Among wine jokes, the one where someone says they don't like Chardonnay but love Chablis has to be one of the classics. Overused as it may be, I have actually met someone who during the course of an evening of drinking wine told me about how he had had a marvellous Chablis at a restaurant recently and that the only type of wine he really hated and never ever drank was Chardonnay.

Whatever you may think of this joke, you can argue that it reflects a popular perception of Chardonnay as very oaky, often over-oaked in fact, versus Chablis representing a light, elegant style of Chardonnay that is mostly untouched by oak. As this is a style of wine the Wine Rambler is really interested in, I was more than happy when I was recently invited to taste a flight of Chablis - in fact, the nominees of the 24th annual Chablis Wine contest run by the Burgundy Wine Board.

Posted by Julian 27 May 2010

With at least one Wine Rambler new year's resolution still unfulfilled, a sense of duty and self-discipline finally compelled me to open a Loire white. I also wanted to try one of the esoteric, hyper-regional french wines that the really knowledgeable cats like Cory Cartwright from Saignée are always on about. I had hoped for something original to broaden my wine horizon, but this Chenin Blanc from a legendary Vouvray producer turned out to be rather more - a real shock to the Riesling-saturated system.

Posted by Julian 21 Mar 2010

Ink-coloured, almost black, smelling of plum jam, eucalyptus and donkey stable and puckering your mouth all over with overwhelmingly rough tannins, here we have a text book Tannat (note the linguistic closeness to "tannin" as well as to "tanning").

Posted by Julian 14 Mar 2010

Tasted blind, and very subjectively, here.

Posted by Torsten 29 Dec 2009

It is time again to write up some wine relate news: the juicy, the interesting, the random and all other sorts of miscellaneous wine information the Wine Rambler happened to stumble upon over the past few weeks.

Let's start with one of your favourite topics, women and wine. Apparently, girls are somewhat intimidated by buying wine and they need a little help to overcome that fear: if the wine label is pink, features stilettos or if the wine is called 'Girls' Night Out' or 'Bitch', girls are apparently more likely to buy it. This is according to the Canadian National Post that recently ran an article entitled ">Wine, women and wrong?, asking the question: 'Do tarted-up labels do a disservice to female drinkers?' I do wonder why they do not consider that men too might want to make a wine their personal bitch? [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 25 Dec 2009

Certain ways of cooking fish and shellfish just cry out for a clean, light and crisp dry white wine - especially if you bake a whole sea bass in a salt crust. This is an excellent way to celebrate the delicate flavour of fish and it works well with a range of fish, including sea bream. Just put a little pepper and some herbs into the fish and then cover the whole fish in a dough made of salt, water and perhaps a few egg whites. This seals in all the moisture and preserves the delicate flavours of the fish. Serve the fish just with a bit of olive oil, pepper and salt, perhaps a little lemon and enjoy with very simple side dishes, perhaps just a few slices of white bread.

And make sure to select a wine that will not overpower the fish - I find a dry Muscadet works very well in this context.

Posted by Torsten 21 Dec 2009

What could be a better Christmas present than a mammoth tusk? If you too cannot imagine anything better, you are certainly in line with some of the staff and customers of Harrods, the famous London department store.

I visited this temple of conspicuous consumption earlier today, but as I had already organised all my Christmas presents a while ago, I showed the tusk and another £47,000 fossil that also was on sale the cold shoulder and moved on to the wine shop in the basement, eager to explore what delights it might offer - especially with regards to German wine. I mean, where better to go, one would think, than Harrods if it comes to finding something unusual and extraordinary, right?

Posted by Julian 19 Dec 2009

Very dark, blackish colour.

Great smell: Cassis, plums, cherry jam, tar and candied sugar.

Seems to go through two phases in the mouth, with nice sour cherry fruit, fresh acidity and coal at first, followed by subtle oak, vanilla, smoke and ash.

This more than convincing Bordeaux takes its stand between the traditional and the more accessible "international" style and actually gains complexity and tension from that. We (Mr. and Mrs. Munich Wine Rambler with two nice guests) really enjoyed this one, because it seemed to appeal to the snob as well as to the occasional drinker, without being a bland compromise.

Posted by Torsten 05 Nov 2009

While the week comes to an end, it is getting time for some wine news from the Internet: the miscellaneous, the bizarre, the enlightening. Let's start with Spar. 'Spar' means 'save money' in German (and, as I understand, also in several other languages such as Dutch, Danish or Norwegian) and I always took it for a smallish continental food retailer, until I found out that it actually is one of the world's largest. Maybe it is this international aspect of the business that has convinced Spar to go local with regards to wine. In the UK, Spar is now selling wines with the labels translated, well, not into English, but into regional dialects. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 15 Oct 2009

Brick red colour, going brown on the edges.
Surprisingly wild smell, a little animal even, leather, some tar, some cocoa.
Slender-bodied in the mouth, very fresh acidity, aged cherry and plum flavours, surprisingly rough-grained, rustic tannin that has retained its sharp edge. Nice aftertaste of prunes and coffee that lingers for quite a while. [read the full post...]

Posted by Torsten 19 Sep 2009

Sometimes you find one of these local shops that feel a bit like home. For me, Philglas & Swiggot in Battersea is one of them. Located on Northcote Road, Battersea's food and wine shopping street (especially if you count the St John's Road extension), this gem of a shop has been supplying the locals with wine for almost two decades. Now there are two other branches, one in Marylebone, the other in Richmond. The efforts of the team to provide good wine and good advice have been recognised, for instance through the award of London Wine Merchant of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Philglas & SwiggotPhilglas & Swiggot

So what's so special about this shop?

Posted by Julian 01 Sep 2009

German organic supermarket chain Alnatura has a small, but convincing wine selection, much of which comes in half bottles as well. A good marketing move, since, apart from being good for single drinkers or weekdays, this always makes me less hesitant about trying a wine I know nothing about.

Deep cherry red, with a brick-red edge.
Nice smell of tannic cherries, raw beef, some red and black currants.
In the mouth, thick-skinned cherries again, red currants, medium bodied, a little leathery, a spicy, but also mouth-drying after-taste with a real pinch of tannic roughness. [read the full post...]

Posted by Julian 22 Aug 2009

Two rosés from the languedoc, both predominantly Syrah, with some Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan, one from Paul Mas, via Jacques Weindepot, around 5 €, the other from Olivier Jullien, via K & U, around 12 €.

Up went the brown paper, professionally applied and stylishly decorated by my lovely assistant, who deserves very special mention. Those sharp of eye and quick of wit will quickly see which is which, but for 24 hours, I had no way of knowing. You can follow the links any time you get bored.

Posted by Julian 21 Aug 2009

Tasted blind here.

Very dark pink.
Smells of raspberries, rose petals, a lot of red and black currants, and a green, fresh touch, as if the leaves and stems of all those fruit had been thrown in as well.
In the mouth, good concentration, very spicy currant fruit again, some wildness, good acidity and a bit of tannin. Fairly long.

Good, seriously made rosé, whith a bit of a rough edge that makes it a food wine much more than a porch sipping wine, but gives it some character. Mind you, rosés are generally not my kind of wine, so I'm not sure I can describe this with any authority. It does seem a bit pricy.

Posted by Julian 21 Aug 2009

Tasted blind here.

Very dark pink, an impressive colour.

Smells of raspberries, rose petals, but peaches and exotic fruit as well, a certain artificial fruitiness (a little fakey-fake action, as Gary Vaynerchuk would probably say).
In the mouth, full-bodied and smooth, pleasantly fruity, very easy to drink, but with a bit of a hole in the middle, not too long.

Good rosé, certainly convincing for its price, that many people will enjoy for summer sipping. Not the world's greates fan of rosés in general, I'm not blown away, but I can think of worse beverages for an august evening.

Posted by Torsten 17 Aug 2009

It has been a while since I had my last Gauby, quite a while, but I still remember the yummy cherry flavour of his 2005 red. So I thought the 2004 might be just the wine to have with a duck breast with balsamico glazed baby carrots.

The first thing you notice is the deep, dark, glorious red colour. It is followed by a nose of cherry (hurrah!) and berries with a woodland-pepper-spiciness that finds a good addition in a hint of wild animal smell. The pleasant sensation continues in the mouth where the fruitiness of well rounded cherry-berries is nicely balanced by spicy herbs and a hint chocolate, all of which are presented in a cool, smooth way. The tannins are already well integrated. [read the full post...]