Introducing Greybeard’s Corner

Ξ January 12th, 2009 | → 1 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Greybeard's Corner, International Terroirs, Restaurant Reviews, Tasting Notes, Wine News |

A Happy 2009 to everyone! The turn of the year is often an excuse for reminiscing over the past and Donna, Ken and I did this on the recent Reign of Terroir first anniversary post. It was whilst I was writing my part that I thought about starting a monthly “Diary post” of my assorted food and drink experiences which maybe wouldn’t provide enough detail or relevance for a full article in isolation but when combined should hopefully contain enough to interest most readers.
December began for me with another visit to Lund in Sweden, where I once again stayed at the Djingis Khan hotel. Chef Morten was in top form again and the delights of the visit was a superbly delicate top steak of cod served on a bed of celery and lettuce with diced apples and Parma ham. A fresh Puglian IGT Chardonnay was its accompaniment, although it was possibly a little too full for the fish – the Mauro 2006 had good depth and richness, with a butterscotch nose and a little alcohol heat. The wine had enough savoury complexity on its own, better suited as an aperitif rather than with food.
Other wines included the Firefinch “Ripe Red” from South Africa, a concentrated, high alcohol fruity wine, just a little over the top. There was also the Canaletto 2006 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC which I could have sworn was a Shiraz with pepper component on the nose, fruit forward with a touch of VA, cherry on the mid-palate and finish – very easy drinking. As it was the run up to Christmas I even had some sweet Kirsch and Almond flavoured Danish cherry wine!
Later on in the month we had our office Christmas meal at the Loch Fyne seafood restaurant in Gosforth, Newcastle. For a Christmas meal trying to accommodate 30+ people the food was pleasant, especially my choice of smoked salmon appetizer with pan-fried duck breast as a main. The accompanying wine received mixed approval, a little bit expected as we were on a budget! The Domaine de la Provenquière Viognier 2007 from the Languedoc was a delicious and fresh white to start off the meal, but it’s red brother, the Domaine de la Provenquière 2007 Merlot & Grenache was unbalanced and disappointing. Much better was the Bodegas Larchago 2006 Rioja which we had towards the end of the evening.
Obviously the end of the month saw a marked increase in food and wine consumption to cover Christmas and New Year, and with nearly 2 weeks uninterrupted holiday I quickly settled into a relaxing lifestyle!
Wine purchases. December was a relatively quiet month on the purchasing – the cellar was already pretty full and didn’t need much topping up – and was also atypical with more than usual being opened almost immediately and enjoyed with family and friends over the festive holidays.
Of note was a trip to Waitrose in the run up to Christmas where I found a special offer on the newly released Château Musar 2001 at £14.39 instead of the usual £17.99. Two bottles were duly added to my expanding Lebanese inventory, I now have 12 bottles from that country, mostly Musar but also bottles from Châteaux Ksara and Kefraya.
Pesquie trioI also finally got round to ordering some Château Pesquié wines from on-line retailer, Tyne Wines. As you may know I spent a glorious week at this Côtes du Ventoux winery this summer and was pleased when I found out one of my local suppliers had some older vintages still available.
£56 (with the bonus of free delivery as I live so close) bought me 5 bottles including one bottle of the white 2003 Quintessence (Roussanne/Clairette) and two bottles of the 2001 Prestige (Syrah/Grenache).
Of most interest to me were two bottles of the 2002 Les Terrasses, usually the entry level Pesquié red but this year, a poor vintage where the top label Quintessence red was not produced, the better red grapes went into the “lesser” cuvees.
As for the other wines that have been stashed away for future drinking, my partner Sarah bought me a Pomerol as a stocking filler for Christmas, Château Bugrave 2004 (the second wine of Chateau Bonalgue) and I couldn’t resist a white Saint-Joseph (yet another Roussanne blend for me) the Cave de Saint Desirat 2005, knocked down to (superstitious people look away now!) £6.66 from the COOP.
Wine consumption. Unsurprisingly sparkling wines came to the fore this month (but remember I rarely drink from this category throughout the year so it is all relative!).
The Madame de Maintenon Brut Champagne (£13.99 from the COOP) was an easy drinking sparkler with a baked apple nose and green apple in the mouth, but lacked complexity. More enjoyable was the Pierre et Frédéric Becht Cremant d’Alsace Rosé (£8.99 from NH Wines) which had a delicate peach flavour with a raspberry finish. However best of the bunch was the Pommery “Summertime” Champagne Blanc de Blancs, a welcome present from one of my French colleagues a year ago and showing its class – light bodied and elegant with a fine mousse and a delightful apple component throughout.
December was also a month of firsts with a Luxembourg Pinot Blanc, a German Eiswein, a Barolo and a Palo Cortado sherry all being opened from my cellar.
The Pinot Blanc was one of my summer vacation purchases, the Caves de Greiveldange 2005 Pinot Blanc Premier Cru (Lieu-dit Primerberg) produced by Les Domaines de Vinsmosselle and bought for £5 in a Belgian supermarket in August. It had a light and floral nose with some sweet honeysuckle. A citrus tang up front moved to a dry, slightly bitter mid-palate and a medium length honey finish with good balance, if a little thin.
The Eiswein was Pfeiffer’s 2004 Silvaner by Ewald Pfeiffer, picked up in Morrisons supermarket last April for £6. At 9% this Pfalz dessert wine had a beautiful golden caramel colour with a light aroma, sweet but also a little toffee. There was some pineapple in the mouth and good acidity on the finish, maybe too sweet for the overall complexity, but good.
The Barolo and Palo Cortado were both supermarket own labels, entry level versions bought as an introduction to the styles. The Barolo was from Tesco’s Finest range, the Ascherivini 2002 Barolo bought in October 2006 for £13. I was pleasantly surprised by this offer from a poor vintage; it was a warming autumnal colour, with spice box, cherry wood and earthy tones on the nose and a good mouthfeel with forward acidity, mellow tannins and a smooth finish. Quite light with subtle cherry aspect, although no mid-palate to speak of, this was an enjoyable food friendly wine holding its age well.
Finally, for the new experiences, was the Palo Cortado, a rare sherry style described in my “Christmas Drinks” post in December from Waitrose at £7.50. Toffee brown in colour with the classic sherry aroma and a little wood smoke mixed in this was very dry in the mouth and had a refreshing, light mid-palate and a long salty finish. Although nice for a change I prefer the Oloroso style more.
I also managed to get through the three different Pesquié wines mentioned above. Both reds had forward acidity preferring food accompaniment but nevertheless were drinking well with smooth tannins and a mix of secondary flavours, including tobacco and spice for the 2002 Les Terrasses and white pepper and liquorice for the 2001 Prestige. However good the reds were it was the 2003 Quintessence Blanc that was the star of the pack. This was a full bodied white with a light honey colour and a delicate floral perfume, dry and creamy in the mouth with floral components and a stone fruit finish of moderate length. Although I had expected this to be past its best there was no hint of oxidation and the complexity and balance were delicious, almost the best wine I had last month….almost, but not quite. That honour is reserved for a wine made from my favourite white varietal, Riesling, and from one of my favourite white producing areas, Alsace.
The Domaine Paul Blanck 2002 Patergarten Riesling was also bought on my summer vacation last year, although this time from a Dutch Cheese & Wine store in the quaint old market town of Gouda. At £20 it was the most expensive single bottle I’d bought in the summer, and I was rewarded for that when I opened it over Christmas – we all thoroughly enjoyed drinking this exceptional wine. With a lovely golden colour and a delicious, rich aroma, this was honeyed and floral and, typical for Alsace style, you could “feel” some residual sugar in there, but there was no overt sweetness as such. It had a heavy texture, dry and warming with some citrus bitterness and some of the classic Riesling petrol aspects, but very subtle.
A Life UncorkedI also received a copy of Hugh Johnson’s “A Life Uncorked” which I plan on starting soon, so expect a review in the next few months once I’ve digested this.
So now the holidays are over and it’s back to the day job – I’d expect January’s retrospect to be shorter and less decadent! Until then I wish everyone a good start to the New Year.


One Response to ' Introducing Greybeard’s Corner '

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  1. Peter May said,

    on January 24th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Interesting diary :)

    Shame I missed the Waitrose Musar offer but no doubt it will come around again. The recent increasing frequency of deep cuts at Waitrose deters me from buying any wine there not on discount — having bought a case of their own Chablis only to see it discounted by 33% a couple of weeks later.

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