Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fenster loses popularity contest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did not win the Brancott Estate competition. I am not going to New Zealand, and may never get to plant a vine at Brancott Estate (snigger!). A bit of a squeezer but what can you do?

Thanks for voting anyway,

PS If you didn't you might be interested to know I lost by one vote!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kreydenweiss Kritt Pinot Blanc 2008

Yes Chillin, it's been a while but the least popular blog on the internet is back.
Tasted a delightful Kreydenweiss Pinot Blanc Kritt 2008 (12.99 from O'Briens) and it is goodly stuff. SCABFEST ALERT FOR MONTH OF AUGUST THIS FINE JUICE IS AVAILABLE FOR 11.69, a whopping 13cents more than if you went to Andlau and bought it at the cellar door. His other wines are also reduced in price, although are, I believe, still marginally cheaper in the French Paradox of Ballsbridge.

Marc Kreydenweiss is undoubtedly one of the top producers in Alsace today- he also has a domaine in Costiere de Nimes and a burgeoning negoce business in the Southern Rhone. Based in Andlau, closer to Strasbourg than Colmar, Kreydenweiss is a long-time proponent of biodynamism. I had the pleasure of visiting Andlau one Sunday during their 'Fete de la Musique'. We had driven for a hung-over hour with the express purpose of tasting chez Kreydenweiss but arrived to find the place closed. We soon entered in to the spirit of the festival though, dancing to the sounds of the local tuba band- obviously this didn't happen and we took a snot and left.

I have tasted a number of his Alsace wines over the years. The GC Kastelberg Riesling is fabulous stuff, the 1997 was one of the wines that really got me into Alsace in the first place. I've never been as convinced by the GC Wiebelsberg Riesling and Clos du Val du l'Eleon( a 50/50 blend of Riesling and Pinot Gris). Having said that I haven't tasted any vintages more recent than 2002.

Kreydenweiss is known amongst Alsace nerds for his use of malolactic fermentation- the conversion of harsh malic acids (think green apples) into lactic acid( think more gentle acidity in milk). This is unusual in Alsace, particularly in Riesling. I didn't know this when tasting the wines mentioned above, and couldn't discern it in the Kritt. Kreydenweiss's wines are also remarkable for having attractive modern labelling. Many Alsace labels look like they were designed by the fella who did the Furhrer's birthday cards, making for a hard sell amongst the German wine hating public.

Kreydenweiss's wines are expensive in France. Bettane and Desseauve quote near to fifty euro a bottle for the 2007 Kastelberg, which is at the very punchy end for dry Alsace riesling. I was therefore surprised to see his wines so fairly priced in O'Briens ranging from 12.99 for the Kritt Pinot Blanc, up to 29.95 for the GC Wiebelsberg Riesling. These are the same or cheaper than the wines are generally listed en France.

The name Kritt refers to a non-grand cru terroir where Kreydenweiss grows Gewurz and Pinot Blanc. Kreydenweiss produces less than 17,000 bottles of Pinot Blanc a year from this stony, iron rich site. The Kritt Pinot Blanc 2008 is zesty with lovely hints of white flowers, pears and a touch of honey in the background. On the palate it is weighty and round, but with lots of lively acidity and zestiness to keep things from getting embarrassing. There is also a nice spicy element in the finish. This is very good stuff and very worth a scab-tastic 13 bucks.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Southern Rhone delights

I had quite the boozy weekend, and very nice it was too.
Sunday lunch started with some delightful Jean Paul Schmitt Gewurztraminer Classic 2007 from Alsace. Although not a young producer Schmitt has started to make inroads with a certain American gentleman in recent years and is on the up and up. This came from From the Vineyards Direct and is good value at 16.95. Schmitt uses a clever volume control icon on the back label of his wines ranging from dry to sweet to indicate the style of wine the consumer can expect FELLOW ALSACE PRODUCERS PLEASE TAKE NOTE!! This was off dry with a nice bitter/ spice aspect.

Roast rib of beef, with Monsieur pommes de terres et al was accompanied by:
Chateauneuf du Pape, 2003 Domaine de la Charbonniere (regular cuvee). I first tasted this about three years ago and was surprised how much I liked it- my inner wine snob had told me that such a high alcohol wine from a vintage as hot as 2003 wouldn't be the sort of thing we'd really go for.

Domaine de la Charbonniere are tipped by the aforementioned American gentleman as one of the best value in the Southern Rhone. Ripe, sweet fruit and a leathery note, this has aged nicely with a nice pruney/ dried fig element. Good stuff. Celtic Whiskey Shop stock a large range of their wines, all at very fair prices. The regular CNP Rouge 2006 is 27.99, and available for even less if you buy a mixed case.

Gigondas Terre des Anes, Montirius 2005 is another big Southern Rhone wine. This fella weighs in at 15% and is a blend of Grenache/ Mourverdre. This was the last of six bottles I bought during my heyday as a Celtic Tiger millionaire. Again this is a style of wine which I would have traditionally purported not to like, but Jaysus 'tis good stuff. Lots of garrigue-y fruit on the nose, with a developing gamey/ leather note. Far fuller bodied, with more tannic grip than the CNP and fruit not as sweet. This fella was crying out for leg of lamb with anchovy tomatoes and peppers. A lovely wine, but not quite up to the level of the CNP. A stonker nonetheless. Alas now difficult to get, a couple of sad bottles of 04 in Mortons in Ranelagh for €29.95.

To finish us off my brother sneakily produced a bottle of JL Chave 'Mon Coeur' Cotes du Rhone 2007. This is from the negotiant wing of world famous Northern Rhone producer Jean Louis Chave of Hermitage. The grapes are a blend of Grenache Syrah bought in from Rasteau, Valearas and Vinsobres. The Chave negotiant wines are made to be good examples of their particular appelation, and this far excelled expectations. This had berry fruit and spice, with a game-y note that reminded me of venison. The Syrah was very much in evidence with that particular blackcurrant vicks flavour that you sometimes get in Rhone Syrahs. Again this is difficult to get here but Berry Bros appear to have less than a case in stock. €15.00 from Berry Bros and worth every penny. Was lovely with the Chaource AOC bloomy rinded cow's cheese from Sheridans. The Chave Offerus St Joseph is a seriously good wine for the price, and their negotiant Hermitages are fantastic value given what you pay for standard Hermitage. All from Berry Bros, although you'll have to ask them to send from the UK.

All in all a very pleasant Sunday, with all the wines showing well. People's champion was the CNP but I think the Chave CDR would be hard to beat for value.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tescos Finest Cremant d'Alsace 8.99

Sick of your stupid scabby friends offering you a glass of champagne and filling your vessel with headache-mania 10 euro prosecco? Then get your scabby skates down to Tesco and pay just 8.99 for this lovely 100% Riesling fizz.

Just like Champagne the secondary fermentation in Cremant d'Alsace takes place in bottle. The wine then spends 15 months on lees before disgorgement (the minimum period permissible in Champagne but pretty good vs requirements for other traditional method sparkling wines at this price point like Cava). The amount of time spent on lees is a major determinate in the complexity of the fizz, and all things being equal the longer the better. As the lees ( the dead yeasts which produced the CO2 for the fizz in the first place) break down they release 'autolytic' toasty, biscuity flavours. It is generally held that humans can't taste these autolytic under 24 months, but they can still lend complexity.

This is lovely fresh peach and citrus, but is still clearly Riesling. Serve it as an aperitif alongside smoked salmon. A serious bargain at this price, and probably being sold at or near cost- as champagne closure duty alone plus VAT comes to 6.00.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wines of Street Fighter 2

This one has been weighing on my mind for some time, but which wines/ grapes best represent the various characters in Street Fighter 2?

Here are some initial thoughts on the matter:
Blanka: I had thought that his accessibility, and exoticism made him quite like Gewurztraminer, but upon reflection I think he is more like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Again he has an instant appeal, he is both green and exotic, and his electric shock move represents the high acidity of sauvignon blanc. Ultimately he is a one dimensional character though, and gamers soon tire of the repetitive nature of his moves.

Eddy Honda: Is a trickier proposition, although the thinking operates along similar lines. He is a red wine and fleshy with it. He is also a simplistic character to play with, having a few crappy moves and is not capable of greatness. Maybe he is something like a Dolcetto, instantly appealing but uninteresting when compared to other characters. There may also be some argument in favour of his being either Grenache or Gewurztraminer.

Ken and Ryu: These guys are universally popular with players of Street Fighter 2, yet their popularity is justified as they are certainly two of the best characters in the game. I think they are probably- in no particular order Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Guile: Annoying and American. Popular with some people, but really fairly limited. Zinfandel?

Dalsam: Undoubtedly represents Riesling. Capable of some of the greatest moves in the game but generally unpopular with people who go for Ken and Ryu as he is more complicated to master.

Chun-Lee: Very tricky. As a female character she should really be a white varietal, but nothing really fits. Maybe she is Merlot. Dismissed as one dimensional but capable of being the best character of them all.

Zhangief: I had thought that Zhangief was Nebbiolo, but this is too flattering. Zhangief's 360 joypad move is just impossible to do, whereas Nebbiolo is capable of being mastered. Maybe he is more like Baga from Portugal, which is generally fairly undrinkable due to massive drying tannins and high acidity. Difficult to love unless you are very, very dedicated ( or drink the wines of Luis Pato!)

Is this odd?

I haven't included any of the extra level characters- but they are fairly useless and no obvious pairing really jumps out- although there is a Spanish/ latin character named Vega which should be easy.

Good Lord above, Chanson Meursault 2007

Once again I am the spit-roasted whore of O'Briens and Chanson, and yet all I have is an O'Briens loyalty card. Their Meursault 2007 is currently on offer for 24.99, down from an unattainable 39.99, it may represent the bargain of the year at this price. Given that you can pay 24.99 for Bourgogne Blanc from a posh producer- in this regard check out Simon Bize's Bourgogne Perrieres 2007, or Chateau de Puligny's Clos du Chateau Bourgogne Blanc 2007- both are fab.

As noted before in this blog Chanson has recently transformed from one of the true crud-fests of the Cote d'Or to take its place along side the very top negotiant houses in Beaune.

This is a more crystalline, razor-edged Meursault-style than many of the butter-fests out there, spending 11 months in oak. It has that crisp 07 acidity and is all the better for it. Loads of acidity, minerality and finesse, with citrus, some honey and nuttiness too. Their website notes that the grapes come from four different plots of vineyards, bought from select vignerons (winemakers). Two are located in mid-slope and give finesse and minerality, the other two are closer to the village giving more depth and richness.

In short this is fantastically good, and performs the most ridiculous ballet on your palate. Be careful though as it needs a good hour in the decanter to give up any of its saucier details. I didn't decant mine but it only really opened up towards the end of the second evening. Serve it with white fish in creamy sauce, or lobster.
Seriously recommended, possibly my Christmas day wine depending on how the mugging goes!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Il Grigio Chianti Classico Reserva reduced to 15.99

Just a quick note to say that O'Brien's have reduced San Felice's Il Grigio Chianti Classico Reserva 2005 from a princely 17.45 to a pauper-ish 15.99. This cheeky bearded gentleman is reviewed below. Ninety points from Wine Spectator, five stars rating from Decanter and, most importantly, a big Christmas tickle from the Fenster. Get your scabby chops around this fella, you won't regret it.