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Midweek drinking 14 - 17 March 2022

After a busy day redecorating my living room I’m trying a new to me wine,

Part of a small wonders whites case. Pale, clean and bright, with an almost slightly musky, fruity aroma (in a good way!). It has a tiny bit of spritz, and a fresh lemon and grapefruit taste leaving my mouth feeling pleasantly invigorated. Good match with a medium veg curry and while watching poor Dan Evans looking for a miracle against Nadal.


Celebrating my wife’s birthday last night. The Rioja was glorious and smelled almost like caramel on opening. The Boizel (half) I’ve kept a year (disgorged oct 2020) and all the better for it, round and soft with aromas of warm Dorset apple cake. Pretty good for a Monday.



Been sipping this over the last few days, lovely stuff with decent complexity. Not far from a Madeira.


I was ravenous this evening after spending a good part of the day working out at the local leisure centre. On my return, and as I was going to make a shellfish stock from a tub of prawn heads and shells in the freezer anyway, I fried some large tiger prawns which were then enjoyed with crusty bread and salad. Both needed a relatively cheap but drinkable white to, er, enhance their flavour ( yeah I know, yet another excuse ). This was the victim…

…a Vinho Verde Loureiro 2021 from the Ponte de Lima Co-op ( £6.95 ).

Every bit as good as the 2020 enjoyed a couple of weeks ago. Fresh and brisk orchard fruit aromas and flavours with a lovely spritzy mineral tingle on the palate. Uncomplicated, easy to drink, refreshing and food friendly, I really, really like this wine !

The prawns by no means satiated my considerable appetite so I had some beer battered haddock and potato wedges afterwards. It went well with that too, needless to say the bottle’s now history.


Skiing in La Plagne this week with friends. Mostly drinking local reds and whites with dinner with the odd Cotes du Rhone thrown in, nothing much of note (which is fine).

Half the reason we chose this resort though is a bar on the piste home where we have happy memories from a few years back sharing bottles of Champagne. Thankfully, the bar still exists and the bubbles are still as reasonable as before. There’s been a bottle a day of Brut LP, and I really enjoy how poised and refreshing it is. It’s not showy, but to me it is one of the most drinkable of the Grande Marque NVs.

On our second day in, the table next to us asked what we were celebrating. Our answer, “It’s Monday and we’re not at work,” is a marker of this trip. After a particularly good day yesterday, we ordered the Dom Perignon as a midweek treat.

First in the glass you could taste the warmth of 2009, the wine had a real softness to it. With a lovely mousse and a noticeably more intense bouquet than the Laurent Perrier. After Thirteen years in it didn’t seem to be fading to me, and after a half hour or so it opened up into something distinctly mushroomy. A nice holiday treat to ourselves and I wine I’d not normally buy.


Always a great reason for celebration in my house!


We used to drink LP Rose (can’t get accents on my phone) on the terrace of L’ Escale Blanche in Tignes for €40 a bottle a few years ago. Always a great end to a sunny day on the slopes.


Not too sure where I sit with this one; part of the current TWS Spanish tour fine wine mixed 6. It’s a red Rias Baixas made from mencia (as would be expected) plus some brancellao (= alvarelhao) and espadeiro ( a Portuguese variety from over the river in N Vinho Verde). Not clear what the proportions are but it’s very mencia-ish and I suspect is the dominant cépage here.

To accompany a mixed seafood and chorizo (yeah yeah I know…) paella; Low alcohol 12% (good) and tastes like a cool climate red - this would be consistent with its seaboard Gallician origin, and very much reminds me of a Ribeira Sacra, ie not quite as ripe, peppery and brambly as a Bierzo. It was very reductive on initial opening and which soon wafted off and over time did develop but on the other hand wasn’t especially delicious or interesting, even on day 2. TWS TN’s are effusive :- this has exquisite fruit purity and concentration despite its freshness, vibrancy and delicate body.

So as an interesting provenance yes, but a useful new repeat-buy string to the bow, at £18 not cheap as chips; so not really. Rias Baixas will remain firmly in my albarino playbook !


Awful weather day here but at least some good news on the news front for the Radcliffes. :partying_face::partying_face::partying_face::pray::pray:

Decided to cook lunch and not dinner, made this Lancashire hot pot….

With this a delightful museum release from last year - it was perfect with a meaty carb lunch. Very soft and totally ready a delight to have a mature Syrah.

With the rain still falling and a savoury finish required we opened this fireside with fromage and cricket.

Back into our regime and excercise tomorrow but this has been rather enjoyable…despite the weather


Translation for all Norfolk folk reading this - what he means is “decided to cook dinner and not tea”


Monday - I trolled to M&S to buy a pack of baby courgettes after Waitrose tried to substitute them with marrow sized ones. I made ratatouille which we had a warm french stick and

2018 La Loupe Grenache Noir (France, Vin de Pays d’Oc)
This was a delicious sweet-fruited 100% Grenache, a present from our eldest and his partner who’d wrapped it so beautifully it was a shame to unwrap it.

Tuesday I made a gutsy puttanesca sauce (with chopped black olives, capers, several roughly chopped garlic cloves, two red chillies, a can of anchovies and tomato & basil sauce into which I added freshly cooked penne which we had with a mixed salad and another no-brainer™

2020 Casa Vinicola Roxan The Wine Society’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (Italy, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo)

Wednesday morning was spent making loaves. This evening I’ll be ordering a Nando’s half-chicken and chips via Deliveroo, and making a mixed salad while I wait. With this I’ll be having the second of the very drinkable

2019 Kanonkop Cape Blend Kadette (South Africa, Stellenbosch)

Thursday all being well our plan is to visit the Essex Regiment Museum in Chelmsford to see the French Eagle won at Salamanca. This is triggered by viewing the TV movies based on the Sharpe books starring Sean Bean as Sharpe. We bought a DVD box-set of restored videos because it was cheaper than paying streaming to view them.

In the books and film it was Sharpe and Sgt Harper who took the Eagle. Mrs M has been re-reading the books and after seeing Sharpe’s Regiments I grabbed the book. It’s a gripping read, one I don’t want to put down.

So when we get back we’ll be having a supermarket Indian meal with naan and rice and

2017 Bellevue Estate Pinotage Houdamond (South Africa, Stellenbosch)
This is Bellevue’s basic Pinotage under a M&S exclusive label. Bellevue are a lovely old fashioned estate in the Bottelary Valley, and makers of the first varietal Pinotage. They still have that original vineyard, though now it’s bottled separately and incurs a premium price.

(La Loupe was a gift but I believe it came from Lynn Wines in Pwllheli, Montepulciano from TWS, Kanonkop from Tesco and Houdamand from M&S)

I’ve been pinged by the Covid App; seems I was in close proximity with a positive case on Saturday. So far, so good…


Hope you stay negative. We have just had our closest shave with covid since the whole kerfuffle kicked off two years ago. Had coffee with a neighbour on Monday, and on Tuesday her husband was ill and testing positive. So far it has cost me an afternoon playing sax duets with a friend whose wife is severely clinically vulnerable and a morning visit to an elderly lady who I see once a week under the auspices of a local charity.

Crossing my fingers that that is the sum total of disruption and neither of us test positive. So far so good.

Your week’s menus sound tasty as usual, as do your wines. I am experimenting this evening with a pasta sauce using onion, broccoli and fennel. The original recipe that inspired me also included sausages which I am not using. But am considering the addition of a tin of sardines instead. It will accompany a small glass each of a vino verde left over from Sunday, preceded by the Society’s Fino and olives. Enjoy your Nando meal - do you also succumb to their pastel de nata? I love those little pastries.


If you’ve got a tin of anchovies that should work nicely too.

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Glorious sunshine in a glass: Springbank 10 y/o Local Barley 51.6%. A rare and expensive acquisition & I’m very grateful to @Alabaster_cheeks for his insider assistance.

In the glass: pale gold (young Sauternes?) & reassuringly cloudy after adding a teaspoon of water, nose is initially quite spirity and surprisingly of barley (most whisky’s doesn’t). A sip is immediately mouth-filling & rich, there’s something floral - gorse certainly - finishing on toasted saffron & crème brûlée with bitter notes. No peat unless that’s the bitter / toasted notes Nor coastal salinity, yet very mouthwatering.

Not overly complex, although this will develop as the level goes down the bottle. Despite being 100% bourbon barrel, its all about the distillate. This will go to the back of the cupboard and hopefully last me through to Christmas, a whisky da meditazione?


2020 St. Dune Pyla, McLaren Vale

Back label states Nero d’Avola, Carignan, Negroamaro, Montepulciano, , Grenache, Mourvedre. Wow… I mean what a blend. I just had to try it.

Fleshy, soft, juicy, something spicy, blackberries.
Tastes of Mediterranean stuff which makes sense.

Sloshy, lush, generous, gluggable.
Maybe a bit overpriced at c. £15


Yes I know it’s infanticide but I deserve it! Label a little too wide to get the vintage in (it’s 2011). Purchased on release from the Society before the price went loopy.

Apparently a weaker vintage but lovely classic Cabernet Sauvignon character of cassis with a fruit intensity that really could not be Bordeaux (and quite restrained at 13% abv). Everything is pretty seamless but I guess even better in five years time.


Wow lucky you. The Montebello is stratospherically priced these days.

I couldn’t resist a smug pic from our visit and tasting to Ridge in 2012. Here’s the crew and ToH casually propping the counter and the line up that day. One of Life’s treasured memories


Anyway, ladies and gentlemen - a straw poll, if you would indulge me…

Dilemmas dilemmas - what would you choose to go best with a mildly spicy dahl and a mixed vegetable pilau. Made yesterday and easily heated on my return from a day with the sick n’bad

Candidates are …


Not had a rotgipfler before so that one.


I’d go for the second one as well, my reasoning might be a little prosaic but I always look to Germany or Austria with that kind of dish and it rarely lets me down.,