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Midweek Drinking Thread [21 to 24 November 2022]

Greetings from beautiful Bruges! Nice to be back :grin:

We settled into our little and cosy rented place, and - as always on a first night away - cooked a meal in. Simple but tasty dinner of Tortellini stuffed with cured ham in a cream and wild mushroom sauce, was accompanied by a bottle hastily purchased on the way here, which turned out to be super enjoyable!

Domaine le Pive, Ma Bohème, Gris de Gris, 2021

Surprisingly intense pink made from Pinot Gris, from a domaine located in the Camargue (the IGP is Sable de Camargue). Lovely pink blush in the glass, the nose had an alluring mix of pear and - strangely - red berries, with a pleasant herbal twist and a gentle floral note. Similar notes on the palate - fruit (orchard, peach, white currants) was delicious and ripe - but the twist of dried herbs made it that bit more interesting. Good length too, leaving a sort of spicy aftertaste and a well-balanced acidity. Just about good value for a 16 Euros pink :+1:

The husband enjoyed some beer too, needless to say…

Despite the Kasteel glass, it was actually Vadett Extra Blond - always a satisfying choice :ok_hand:

Christmas markets begin tomorrow… Glühwein, here we come! :christmas_tree::grin:

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My favourite local beer (much as I like TEA)

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Thanks everybody for your kind words. And I hope all goes smoothly with your mum @JayKay - a great upheaval and sad for you all even though you know it’s the right thing for her.

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Ditto. I have fond memories of the brewery selling it at Ripley farmers market in 2 ltr milk bottles, many happy Saturday afternoons spent pottering in the shed with a small glass on the go. Terrific beer.

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Fantastic beer - often available from my local wine merchant in milk cartons (or reusable glass) straight from the keg.

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On Wednesday the SW London Wine Appreciation Group and associates gathered for another evening of great food and wine at Artisans of Sardinia in Putney. Massimo has yet again put together a great menu to accompany our wines.

First up a mouthful of salty creamy yumminess (if you like anchovies), paired with a Charles Heidsieck NV, a wonderfully drinkable briochey, yeasty, yet fresh Champagne. Base vintage 15 with some bottle age, currently sold by TWS, too.

We decided to pitch the two Northern Rhones against each other, both 100% Marsanne. The 2019 Voge St Peray Fleur de Crussol was the wine of the night for me. It had the weight of Marsanne, but avoided being flabby. That sounds like faint praise, but I am doing disservice to this wine trying to describe it. The 2016 Chante-Alouette Hermitage Blanc by Chapoutier had a touch of oxidation that belied its age, however it was at a level that for now only increased the complexity in the wine and contributed to the enjoyment. Both paired perfectly with the earthy beetroot dish. I am a fan of beetroot and do seek it out on menus as well and must say this was one of the best that I have had in a while.

The 2004 Musar White was a revelation. You could not tell it was 18 years old. It was fresh and did a nod to the Northern Rhones we had, just with more acidity. Not sure where the marmiteness of this wine comes from, but based on this example I will keep trying in the future if I have the chance. Scallops perfectly done.

Onto the red and the 2011 Vigna del Sorbo from Fontodi in particular. Being a VdS novice did not know what to expect and I certainly did not expect the Spanish inquisition what was coming. The aromas were leaping out of the glass to whack you in the face. On the palate also super concentrated, super young at 11 years of age. Needs the food to tame it or maybe another decade. I was not sure about the risotto at first, cooked in Cannonau it was quite acidic. Turns out the pecorino cream on top was the key to the enjoyment, could have done with more of it.

The 2011 Barolo Cannubi by Serio & Battista Borgogno was ready to drink and had wonderful Barolo typicity. Reasonably priced for what is in the bottle. Very much enjoyed with the mushroomy gnocchi dish.

We let our host present us the 2014 Turriga from Argiolas, the pinnacle of Sardinian wine (according to Massimo). It was very good and went well with the dish and apparently also the fish version. It is a very good wine, but not one that leaves a lasting impression. Would never refuse a glass, but perhaps not one to seek out. Of course horses for courses and others might argue.

I was a bit dubious when the chocolate mousse pairing for the 2013 Oremus 6 Puttonyos Aszu was suggested, but thought as long as not too creamy and sufficiently dark it might be okay. Turns out it was a fondant the darkest you I have seen. It was great together and each on their own. The fresh redcurrants also helped. A decent sweetie.

Cheers!

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Last night Thursday a bottle of Raspail-Ay Gigondas 2016 with a duck leg confit (Mrs K had a mushroom pie being non-aquatically inclined). Decanted at 4.30 pm and we ate at 8 pm after the usual masochism of Channel 4 News. Plenty of fruit in the mouth and improved over time. One to be enjoyed with food I would say. Mrs K liked it. Tonight off to a tasting at the local gallery.

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Monday - I grilled Cumberland sausages with roasted wedges of Jack Hawkins tomatoes - really ripe having been in the sun in kitchen window, liberally scattered with garlic cloves, dribbled with EVOO and dusted with mixed Southern French herbs and black pepper on slices of toasted home-made multi-seeded bread and opened

2018 Cecchi Chianti Sagrato Riserva (Italy, Chianti)
This was a bin-end in Waitrose at a ridiculously cheap price, and it was jolly good. I wish I’d scooped up more.

Tuesday Mrs M’s early dinner and online bridge game so we had our usual pasta dish - Mrs M’s favourite of crispy slices of aubergine in tomato & basil sauce and penne with a mixed salad and no-brainer™

2020 Casa Vinicola Roxan The Wine Society’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (Italy, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo)
While she played cards, I (re)watched A Hard Day’s Night which I thoroughly enjoyed, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Wednesday we went out for dinner at Aspava and had for mains Iman Bayildi which is a palava to make so I prefer to let someone else do it.
With it we had

2021 Villa Doluca Legend (Turkey, Eastern Anatolia)
A really enjoyable blend of the indigenous Öküzgözü with Shiraz and Merlot. This is so drinkable we had to restrain ourselves so there was some left to accompany the main course…

Thursday it was the monthly lunch meeting of Probus at Verulam Golf Club. I usually pick a Rioja but succumbed to an Argentinian Malbec

2021 Finca Vista Malbec (Argentina, Mendoza)
It was quite drinkable, but closer inspection of the back label revealed it was bulk-shipped and bottled in the UK, no indication of the winery which made it, just an invented name. But - should one care (I do) - there is a fact sheet in importer/bottler Kingsland Drinks site which gives the name of the winemaker as Abel Chiconi and he has a Facebook page which suggests he is a winemaker at Bodegas Borbore. Of course, next vintage or next shipment it could be someone else. Such is the advantage (to the seller) of own labels.

In the evening Mrs M had said we’d have a light meal, so I thought I’d trial a recipe from Guardians Feast Magazine, Meera Sodha’s recipe for tamarind aubergines with Thai basil. Waitrose didn’t have Thai basil so I got ordinary basil. Mrs M.said that it didn’t matter where the basil was grown. Snort. I didn’t have light soy so I used ordinary soy and instead of chilli flakes I used a fresh chilli. But the finished dish looked like the Guardian’s photo. I made half the amount, but Mrs M tried one of the aubergine wedges and liked it, so I’ll make it for dinner one night.

I expected we wouldn’t have wine, but Mrs M, who’d warmed up a ready meal for herself, decided she’d like a glass or two. What to open at the last moment? The ready rack had this

2020 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Casillero del Diablo Reserva (Chile, Maipo Valley)

I couldn’t let her drink on her own, so had a glass. And it was surprisingly good. So I had another glass.

(Chianti from Waitrose, Montepulciano from TWS, Öküzgözü from Aspava, Malbec from Verulam Golf Club, Cabernet was a gift.)

Ready rack is a bit bare now; just an Australian Merlot that has been looked at and passed over many times. As the Ready Rack is all that stands between Mrs M and her pillaging my cellar, I must restock it.

Pip pip!!

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I picked up a couple of of those Sagrato Chiantis too when they were getting rid of them for about £3.50 a few months ago - and had exactly the same reaction when I tried one. Kicking myself for not buying a few more!

Promised to report back on our visit to the Greyfriars Vineyard and winery, so here goes.

Not an easy place to find, as the tour took place at their Monkhatch site, just off the A3 outside Guildford. We were greeted by James, who also also led the tour and tasting in a very entertaining and informative style.

Their original vineyard was an acre of chardonnay planted in 1989. Now there are 62000 vines in 40 acres producing 80,000 to 100,000 bottles a year.

There is a winery onsite. We were told that, of the 900-odd commercial vineyards in the UK, only 10 have such a facility. Most of the slopes here are south facing chalk slopes.

We tasted 5 wines, at various locations around the site.

First off was the Blanc de Blancs 2015 vintage, which has spent 5 years on its lees. Cooking apples, very acidic. None of the advertised brioche flavours hit me. This is 100% chardonnay, no Seyval Blanc.

Rose Brut NV
100% pinot noir, being a blend of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 vintages. This has spent 3 years on lees and 30% of the base wine has seen some oak, so there are some creamy notes to it. Available at Waitrose. IWC 2019 best sparkling rose in the world apparently.

In the winery, dominated by 12hl, 50hl and 100hl stainless steel tanks, we tasted some sauvignon blanc that was undergoing its malolactic fermentation. One sample had had 3 weeks malo and the other 10 weeks. The 3 weeks sample was noticeably sweeter, more residual sugar, we were informed.

Next up, the Blanc de Noirs X 2017 vintage.
100% pinot noir, the first fermentation done in barrel. Red fruit, apples. Still not much in the way of patisserie flavours. Again, mouth-wateringly acidic.

On to the still wines on offer, starting with the Greyfriars Rose. 2021 was a tough year, they struggled to ripen the grapes, but one particular part of the vineyard yielded ripened grapes and this wine was created, a blend of mainly pinot noir with 28% pinot meunier and 8% chardonnay. 30% of it is reserve wine that has been in Sherry casks.

Finally, the Pinot Gris 2021 “Yvonne”.
Actually 68% pinot gris and 32% chardonnay from a solera tank. I found the acidity overwhelmed all other flavours.

Some things we learned from the very informative tour:

Only 15% of the grapes are harvested by hand. Machine harvesting leaves the grape bunch stalks on the vine, as in the pic. Something that had never occurred to me.

Vegan friendly yeasts are used at the winery.
The first fermentation is done at 19 to 21°C in (mostly) stainless steel vats.
Malo undergone. 10 weeks max.
Fining is done with enzymes.
Sulphite is added.

The chalk cave where the wines are aged was dug out of the hillside. 9,500 tonnes of chalk were excavated to make it and it now holds 250,000 bottles.

Up to 12g per litre dosage is added and bottles are topped up with reserve wine from the first fermentation.

Overall, we really enjoyed the tour but did not feel inclined to buy any of the wines, much as we would have liked to support our local winery.

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Thanks for the comprehensive report. Despite living nearby, I’ve never done one of their tours. I have visited their tasting room and shop, and occasionally tasted at a market stall, but like you have never felt compelled to buy.

Their prices are at the lower end of ESW but if I want something local I’d prefer to spend a bit more at Albury Estate.

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A few years ago, when I lived in Guildford, I took a bottle of Greyfriars chardonnay to friends I was visiting in Prague. They didn’t quite spit it out, but they were sadly unimpressed by their first taste of English wine. To be fair their wine industry is many years ahead of ours and their climate generally much more helpful.

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Out of curiosity, what is a ‘vegan friendly yeast’ ? are there also yeasts which appeal to carnivores?

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Yeasts grown on egg and dairy substrate

Oh! every day’s a school day.

I confess I didn’t catch the nuances of the explanation, but I think “vegan-friendly yeast” does not involve the use of gelatin?

Can yeast be vegan unfriendly? It is a fungus (and as a home brewer one I very much appreciate) and as far as I am aware culturing does not rely in any way on animal product/derivatives.

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