All posts filed under: 100ml

Wine Fetish and the Edge of Taste

Because I like my ankles, I learned quickly stilettos are not practical on the cobbled streets of central London. Some shoes are not made for walking. The only sensible place to wear them is in bed. That said, some wines are not made for drinking. I have noticed over the years, people who become fixated on wine long enough, begin coveting the bizarre tastes, the hard-to-find, the wine-beyond-price. For the everyday olfactory worker, this fetish for strangeness can not be talked about in polite company. You can not admit too much to your own personal preferences. To the outside world, if you talk about wine, you are supposed to be objective arbiters of quality who can communicate to the largest audience possible; it is better to supress your boredom with the clean, choc-berry matrix and the desire for new kingdoms of taste by hiding the key in the cellar. The other reason is the blank look given to people who don’t understand. No one wants to be elitist. What I am talking about is a …

Which Airline has the Best Economy Class Wine? The Results.

Once upon a time, glamour ruled the air. Now in the highly competitive days of budget travel, having a drink on board is more about trying to remain as calm and comfortable as possible, a tool to block out the whole distressing experience until landing. Judging 15 airlines’ Economy wines, I was surprised to find a few Airlines managed cared to squeeze the last few drops of glamour left in the flying experience: the wine. But it is the very last drops. Without the aura of glamour, too often the reality is not pleasant: why even pour a NV Vin du Headache? Just suck the metal screwcap to get the last drops of a recognisable wine from something sharp and nasty and you pretty much have most experiences I have in Economy. For budget-strapped airlines, wine in Economy is chosen for everything other than what is in the glass: logistics, volume and price. Before the tasting, I cleared my mind of bad experience of on-board wines (don’t ask) and judged the 12 reds and 12 …

Back to the Future: Comparing 1967 En Primeur to now

If you want peace from the crazy highs of the Bordeaux campaign, then there is nothing that gives more solace than German Riesling. Here is a wine once sold as hotly as Bordeaux but now quietly sits on the books while the wine trade put it on their staff account for their own pleasure. Tasting three exceptional German Riesling last week, I wondered: what if Bordeaux went the way of German Riesling in the next 20 years? Before Robert Parker’s declaration of the 1982 vintage, Bordeaux was just another wine to stock the cellar.

Why Carruades de Lafite is an important indicator for 2010 Bordeaux En Primeur

The ultimate wine brand in in the world is not Lafite. It is Lafite’s second wine: Carruades de Lafite. Once the Bordeaux circus returns, the points are published and the prices are drip-fed out to the buyers by the Chateaux, keep an eye on the prices of Carruades de Lafite. If the “Carruades trend” continues, this could signal the end of the critic-led Bordeaux price. More than any other wine, quality is irrelevant to its price: over the years, Carraudes de Lafite has

Anglo-Saxon Wine Style: Sequencing & how to do it right

I may bang on until I am blue in the face about food matching, but the Anglo-Saxon way is not to think about wine as something to match with food. We can fight against it by suggesting foods, but let’s be pragmatic. What is the best way to drink wine if you are not going to eat much more than a packet of crisps?

Schloss Gobelsburg: philosophical investigations on the pleasures of Gruner Veltliner

“Then I brought up this question: When you say, Men do desire pleasure, what is this use of “pleasure?” Is it contrasted with pain? Pain is localized, for instance. He went on with one of the nicest bits of analysis I heard… He started: Pain is a sensation. Pleasure is not. Why are the senses classified together? Obviously they are not a bit alike. Smells, odors, aren’t a bit like sounds. Then he gave this account. With respect to all these, you can time them precisely with a clock. “Now you see; now you don’t. Now you hear it; now you don’t.” By the clock you can tell. Now pleasure isn’t like this. The logic of the word pleasure is quite different. Clock the pleasure. When did the pleasure begin, when did the pleasure end, etc?” “Wittgenstein conversations 1949 – 1951”, p 63, Oxford. Wittgenstein   Each Gruner Veltliner is a puzzle: in Austria, the spicy white is an everyday wine enjoyed in the same way as Chardonnay; but, here, Gruner Veltliner is still an …

Fast Movers: 3 Popular Wines in London Today

Perhaps deep down I’ve always subscribed to the Oscar Wilde school of thought that Everything Popular is Wrong. So imagine my surprise when I asked my friends in wine shops to tell me what is popular. What wines are making people crazy with excitement? Having some time on my hands this month, I also witnessed the frenzy first hand. These wines’ popularity defy the prescription that wine has to be cheap, boring and of the same-same grape variety. If these styles are popular, then I am sure Oscar Wilde would approve my longing to be wrong:

Never Tear Us Apart? Wine Australia’s new strategy

Listening to INXS on the way to the Australia Trade tasting, I remembered the moment when Michael Hutchence turned up at a premiere for the first time with Kylie Minogue, who had chopped off her hair in to a pixie cut and looked like she had been doing a lot more than the locomotion. Something had changed, we all whispered, but what??? There is a whiff of the 90s about Wine Australia.

Top 5 Wine Posts for 2010

Jump for stars!! Find the Princess! Dodge the King! Like a Super Mario, Wine Woman & Song grew twice in size this year to take on extra hits and new worlds. Here were the highest-scoring Fire Flowers from 2010 (this year’s most-read posts):

Changes in Rosso di Montalcino DOC race ahead

The red colour of Italian cars is not just any red. It comes from a long history of rules, mostly developed between the World Wars, from when car racing began. Different countries were assigned different colours: blue for French cars, white for German cars and, of course, British cars were racing green. Red was assigned for Italian race cars and now, the red colour of Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari is instantly recognisable as a “race red” (or Rosso Corsa). All these rules have a history, which gain sense from the time, but most people today know what is meant by Ferrari Red. Just as with Italian car colours, and a lot of things in Italy, Italian wines have many rules. So it is worth considering what the proposed changes in the rules mean, especially when on the 15th December, the 15 board members proposed to change Rosso di Montalcino from 100% to 85% guaranteed Sangiovese.

The best food and wine of 2010 by @winewomansong on Bibendum Times

Ask anyone who has had their tongue pierced what it feels like and they always tend to shrug it off and say they didn’t feel a thing. I was thinking about this when asked what were my favourite wines of the year. What has marked my tongue so much this year that I can never forget it? Maybe not my actual tongue, but pierced my memory and overturned my senses. Some wines have seared my memory so much, they have changed the way I perceive wine permanently. Here’s just a small sample of my favourite wines – tongue jewellery – from 2010:

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG vs European Union

Some headache! The morning after the party to celebrate 30 years of DOCG status in the ancient Tuscan town of Montepulciano, winemakers were making their way to Brussels to confront the European Union’s decision to change Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG to simple “Montepulciano”. What’s the problem? Montepulciano has 6 syllables already, that is enough for a name isn’t it? And isn’t Montepulciano just a cheap red wine found in most supermarkets for around £5? What’s the problem with shortening it? The problem is this: say Montepulciano and most people think

Delicious Chance: Essencia at Chez Bruce

By delicious chance, just three weeks before the year finishes, I finally tasted the number one wine on my 2010 Wish List: Tokaji Essencia (1993).   Well.   Technically, 1993 is a good vintage for Essencia. But a good vintage is never really enough of an explanation, and unfortunately, vintage is not enough to justify this wine. Essencia is meant to be one of the world’s treasures. The worst thing about it was it is a great wine but it had lost its way only through a lack of love – whether because communist vineyard management was still having an effect on the grapes at the time or whether this particular bottle had been stored shabbily and without care.   Or was it me? Have my expectations changed over the year? Probably. Like any wine obsessive, there is a danger of becoming too over-critical. However, tasting the Essencia while spoon-fed lashings of Crème Brûlée at Chez Bruce softens even the most analytical stance… Despite my misgivings, it manages to shine with a tangy, overripe effect, …

Brave New World: Italian varieties and the future of Australian wine pt2

The image of Australian wine at the moment overseas is supermarket-driven, Chardonnay-championing, industry-driven pah! You’d be forgiven to think Australia is only a vast industrial complex run by blokes in white coats performing Ludovico treatments on unsuspecting international wine writers who are held clockwork-oranged, wires holding their eyes and mouths open to drink high-alcohol wine full of splinters.

October Wine Likes in Three Words

1996 Malescot St-Exupery, Margaux: Violet Cuban Nights 2008 Phelan Segur: Perfumed Mathematical Elegance 2003 Lynch Bages: Polished Bannister – Fun! 2004 Chateau Beaumont: Monday Medoc Method 2008 Pichon-Longueville Baron: Future Claret, Indeed 2007 Plantagenet Cabernet Sauvignon: Smart Berry Brogues 2008 La Bastide Blanche Bandol: Provençal Siesta Interrupted 2010 Whale Caller Shiraz-Cab, Sth Africa: Price Shock. Really. 2009 Falanghina Via Collina: Matte Italian Exuberance Moscato d’Asti, Ca’ ed Balos: Fluroescent Highlighter Scribble 2009 Pinot Grigio Terra Alpina, Lageder: Try This, Imitators! 09Luis Canas Barrel Fermented Rioja Blanco: Spray Paint Oak

The Mysterious Lady: Hunter Valley Semillon

Hunter Valley Semillon is the reclusive star in Australian wine. While other Australian wines have been all-singing, all-dancing on the world stage, Hunter Valley Semillon has been elegantly waiting in the wings or outside the theatre smoking a cigarette with an attitude of whatever, so what? I don’t like fashion and I’m not signing autographs. For Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia, nearly 190 years old, and has seen a few fashions come and go. As a style, it has been seriously unimpressed with the fashions over the past 20 years for high-alcohol, oak bombs despite the rest of the country diving in head first. It could not be a fruit bomb even it if tried; it is inimitable and timeless. That is why Jancis Robinson once described this unoaked white wine as, “Australia’s unique gift to the world”. Despite the fashions, Hunter Valley Semillon has remained slender and elegant: generally 12-12.5% alcohol, mostly boutique production, excellent aging potential and no oak whatsoever. Sounds familiar… The parallels between Hunter Semillon and German …

Fifth Dimension: Movement in Taste

It’s a fact that when you are truly dehydrated, the impulse for thirst in the body shuts down. So you never really know if you are dehydrated even though you desperately need water. In a similar way, sometimes with wine, you don’t know a good one, or the idea of what that may entail, until you have one. It’s a thirst you did not know existed! Recently I hit upon a new scale: this wine makes me happy to be alive. I have talked about the theory behind this in January 2009, How to Survive Passionate Intimacy with a Dreamy Partner While Making a Fortune on the Path to Enlightenment, but now I realise: there’s a lot more to this Theory than I initially thought… only because there’s been plenty of Practice in the meantime. So, back to more Practice. Last night I had 2008 Friulano, San Blas, Vitivinicole Valle from Colli Orientali del Friuli… a white wine from Friuli. This is what astounded me: the movement across the tongue. It had a combing sensation. …

Controversial Freisa

“They can be fussy, unreconstructed; most of them don’t want to go along to get along. They have an attitude, an edge.” – Randall Grahm, Preface to Wines of Italy, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology   There comes an evolution in the taste buds when tasting wine and that can be summed up in one word: bitterness. Bitterness is an acquired taste. A five year old does not like bitterness. Did you ever mistake a cold bottle of Indian Tonic Water with Schweppes Lemonade on a hot summers day as a child? Ha! It is a shock. That is perhaps why Freisa d’Asti from Piedmonte in North-West Italy divided the critics. Hugh Johnson described Freisa d’Asti as being “immensely appetizing” to Robert M Parker Jr described Freisa as producing “totally repugnant wines”. But I defy you to come to a firm conclusion on it from a simple sip-and-spit basis. This is never going to be a mainstream wine. Not because it’s not a good wine, it is an excellent wine, but because …

What is a ‘vino da meditazione’?

I love reading wine tasting notes in Italian. I always want to sing it back. For example, What is a vino da meditazione? It’s an intriguing term often seen in Italian wine notes. It looks like the word “meditation”, but it’s not quite. Coined by famous Italian gastronome, Luigi Veronelli, meditazione is often used to describe sweet passito wines or red wines aged for a long time such as Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino. From my Italian sources, a vino da meditazione can mean: 1. Calm, sweet wine (without bubbles); 2. Important red wines; 3. Wines with a long vinification process from vine to bottle such as Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (at least 5 years in oak), Barolo Riserva (5 years) or Vin Santo (8 years in oak); 4. A way to drink these wines with an attitude of understanding its complexity:”Stop and slow down – this wine should be approached calmly, reflectively to understand its complexity and composition”.   Holy Wine   A classic vino da meditazione is Vin Santo (holy wine), a Tuscan sweet …

From wine to widget (or, my Bordeaux sulk in Rome)

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust “What I don’t understand,” said my Roman friend as we walked through the ruins of the ancient city of Rome, “is how these high prices of Bordeaux wine (En Primeur) can be in the public good?” Yesterday I was on holiday in Italy. Frankly, I needed a holiday. After waiting weeks for the big names of Bordeaux to release their wines, and just a torturous drip drip drip, I was officially in a Bordeaux sulk. Then, whilst away, Leoville Poyferre, a Chateau I call “good value drinking claret”, released their wines at +172% on 2008 and +50% on the already highly-priced 2005. Some wines from 2009 vintage are very good this year, but does this justify the substantially higher price? Feeling rather like an ancient philosopher walking amongst the ruins, however, I felt I should argue the opposite point of view…. The SPQR written everywhere in marble (or, Senatus Populusque Romanus “The Senate and the Roman …

English Wine Week: Curiouser & Curiouser

Curiouser and Curiouser, said Alice in Wonderland, and she could equally be saying the same about English Wine. As it’s English Wine Week (29th May – 6th June), let’s go down the rabbit hole and find the English Wine bottle labelled DRINK ME. 

The Problem with Pinot Grigio UK

Pinot Grigio found in the UK could almost be the perfect drink: it’s plainer than water, it’s nearly the same colour and it’s not much more in price than a good bottle of sparkling… water. After running out of wine at a party last night, we picked up two bottles for only £5 from our corner convenience shop. It wasn’t the only Pinot Grigio we could choose from, either: there was a strange arpeggiato of bottles from nearly every wine producing country. From lemon tart to renal failure in colour, each of them Pinot Grigio in a simple chord, back and forth across the entire wall. All under a fiver.   Decanter reports the proportion of UK wine drinkers buying Pinot Grigio increased by 30% over past 3 years. Why? The style hasn’t changed; but, the promotions have become better. It’s a style that is stuck at 1am in the morning when you are desperate for wine in a convenience shop to satisfy the thirsty bedraggled you wish had gone home hours ago and, you …

Bazaar not Bizarre: Modern Turkish Wine

A mark of intelligence is how to answer stupid questions in a smart way. And before I went to this year’s London International Wine Fair, I had many stupid questions about Turkish wine. Let’s start with the basics. Isn’t Turkey Islamic? Are Islamic cultures allowed to make and sell alcohol? Is it going to be rough traditional wine that will give me headache? Can you buy wine in restaurants there? Where is this wine drunk? How do you even pronounce the grape? Is it even a grape or a style of wine?

Michael Broadbent on music and wine tasting

“What perhaps is needed is something approaching musical notation, for in many ways the problems are similar. Both music and wine appeal to the senses; both are fleeting, in the sense that actual sounds and flavours cannot be retained by receptive ear or palate; both, on the other hand can be appreciated, even greatly loved, by those who lack technical knowledge or who are without a deep interest. But to reach the heights of full understanding and to convey this to others, rather more is required.” – Michael Broadbent in Winetasting Link: Michael Broadbent’s Winetasting

Theory of Capacity by Len Evans

The Len Evans THEORY OF CAPACITY 1. There is an awful lot of wine in the world, but there is also a lot of awful wine. 2. No sensible person drinks to excess. Therefore any one person can drink only a certain predictable amount. 3. There are countless flavours, nuances, shades of wine; endless varieties, regions, styles. You have neither the time nor the capacity to drink them all. 4. To make the most of the time left to you, you must start by calculating your future capacity. One bottle of wine a day is 365 bottles a year. If your life expectancy is another thirty years, there are only 10,000-odd bottles ahead of you. 5. People who say, “You can’t drink the good stuff all the time” are talking rubbish. You must drink good stuff all the time. Every time you drink a bottle of inferior wine it’s like smashing a superior bottle against the wall. The pleasure is lost forever. You can’t get the bottle back. 6. There are people who build up …