Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mr. Prats = NUTZ!!!!

This is my response to's online article reporting Chateau Cos 'Estournel owner's insane comment on Bordeaux 2008 en primeur pricing.

What in God's holy name is he blathering about? Mr. Prats has finally lost it and has ensured that I will buy none of his wine - whatever its release price. He says that first growths substantially lowering their price "'would seriously anger their other clients' by implying they had been paying over the odds since 2005." Is this man a fool? Is he blind? Both? These clients (although in 2007 at least, these "clients" are rather scarce) HAVE been paying over the odds since 2005! They know it; I know it; the editors, contributors and readers of Decanter magazine know it. I would venture to guess that even Mr. Prats knows this startlingly obvious fact; admitting it is obviously the problem here. He is correct, however, in saying that if the first growths released at €100, a lot of new purchasers would emerge (of which I am one).

I was particularly moved by Mr. Prats' heartfelt concern for the negociants and merchants who may be left holding stock of the 2007s. It's amusing (or more appropriately, a little sad) that chateau owners weren't thinking about the welfare of these concerns over the last two years. The simple and undeniable fact is that any merchant or negociant holding stocks of 2007 wines (and probably 2006 as well) WILL lose money on these vintages; it is simply a question of when, because the only way anyone will ever buy them is if they are VERY heavily discounted (ie bargain-binned). I would imagine that for cash flow reasons some of these outfits would be wise to start this process now - they'll never get what they paid for them anyway and so just cut their losses and move on. I'm sure they'll be very appreciative, however (as I am), that Mr. Prats has the negotiants', merchants' and customers' best interest at heart when he suggests that prices remain inflated and out of touch with reality.

I now understand why so many people who have been in the wine game for a lot longer than me have long ago given up on Bordeaux, and it now seems (if Mr. Prats' comments hold weight) that their betrayal of a new generation of customers is warming up on the sidelines.

That 2007 Domaine de la Mordoree is looking really tempting right about now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Old World Napa

I had an excellent experience the other day when a good friend of mine unexpectedly brought a bottle of 1997 Chateau Montelena over my father's house. As a lover of Bordeaux, I tend to find Cali wines to be quite boorish and over the top. That being said, I often find good ones to be quite delicious even while posessing the aforementioned qualities. For some reason though, I tend not to take them that seriously and when I want to open a really great bottle for someone, it very rarely comes from outside Europe.

My father had smoked a shoulder of pork over hickory for most of the day and I showed up with a lovely Barolo (which I'll probably post about later). The pairing was supurb.

On to the Montelena...

I was completely blown away by this wine. If I had simply been given a glass of it and been told it was Margaux, I would not have disputed this in the slightest. It seemed perfectly mature and had a lovely, supple texture. There were some nice rusty colours around the rim of the wine, but still plenty of depth of colour. The aromas were captivating and alongside the typical fruits you would expect with such a wine, I detected that delicious gamey aroma that you get when cleaning out a pheasant. If you don't know what that smells like, buy a bottle of this wine and you'll find out. What it didn't have was that confected, OTT kool-aid-y stuff you can get from expensive California bottles. Really, really classy.

The wine was absolutely supurb and really made me wonder why more wineries in California can't seem to put efforts like this together. Given the expense and apparent rarity of this particular wine, I doubt I will ever be in a position to have this wine again, but I am definately thankful for having it on that occasion. I would have to rate this as the best wine I've yet to taste from California.

Monday, February 9, 2009

First NIght @ The Oak

After 23 hours of travel to get home to Riverview, Michigan, I strode wearily into my "home bar," the Oak Cafe at around 11pm. I had been eagerly anticipating this visit as it had been quite a long while since I'd been able to drink some delicious Michigan Beers. Given the lateness of the hour (4am Irish time) and my fatigued state, any inaccuracies in my recollections are forgiven by me.

My first selection was what is probably my favourite stout of all time the Founder's Breakfast Stout. This stout, clocking in at 8.3% ABV, was a fantastic welcome home from the limpid 4-5% beers that dominate the Irish beer market. It is perfectly-crafted and the additions of the coffee and chocolate are perfectly balanced and are not overdone in any way. The flaked oats give the beer a delicious, weighty mouthfeel compounded by the alcohol. Overall, I cannot imagine a more perfect beer.

After a 22oz. glass of this, I switched to a small 16oz serving for my first ever taste of the Founder's Double Trouble IPA. This beer was delicious indeed. As it is an Imperial IPA, it is 9.4%ABV. This beer had a beautiful, light gold colour and strong hop aroma. On the palate the hops really shone through with an acidity that did a great job of balancing out the sweet-tasting alcohol. I detected a pronounced fruitiness on the palate that had a kind of apricot/peach component. I don't like giving beers and wine scores, but if I did, it would definately warrant a high one.

Although I was really beginning to fade at about 1am, I couldn't bring myself to leave without having a glass of the delicious Bell's Hopslam, another Imperial IPA, this one at 10%ABV. Although the Founders Double Trouble was quite delicious, it was trumped in the end by the Hopslam. I won't write any tasting note for this beer as I was so tired that I couldn't really focus on it. I'll just have to have some more before going back to Ireland! I will say that it made a delicious pairing with the Spicy Black Bean Deep-Fried Quesadillas!

I must also mention that all of these beers were in draught form, a first for me in every case. In all, it was a fantastic way to cap off what was an extremely long day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I love coffee, but...

I love coffee and usually have 2 to 3 cups a day. Yesterday, while collecting my boss at Shannon Airport, I stopped by a gas station to get some coffee. I was surprised that the brand of coffee they sold was Tim Hortons. Yes, in Ireland there are apparently branded Tim Horton's coffee cencessions at gas stations.

Later that morning, when we arrived to work, we got some more coffee from Puccino's. The franchise in Ennis is run by some lovely girls who serve some of the very best coffee in town. It must be said, that even though I have an affinity for Tim Horton's because of the proximity of my hometown to Canada, Puccino's is far superior in every way.

Then came dinner time. My wife and I had prepared some venison lasagne. Before this, we had some white wine and then some red with our meal. The reason I don't mention exactly which wines we had was because I couldn't taste either of them. Why, you ask??

Because I burned my damn tongue with all the F-ing coffee!! AAaagggh!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Here is the link for the aromatic carrot soup my wife made the other day. I think she used chicken stock (home made of course) instead of veg stock and added a couple of chilies as recipes are usually written for people who can't handle spicy food.

I also had a delicious bottle of the late Didier Dagueneau's Blanc Fume de Pouilly 2004 that I purchased at Lavinia in Paris in 2007. We drank it over 2 days and found it absolutely beautiful.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Henriques & Henriques Madeira

I had my first experience with H & H Madeira last night. After a glass of the exquisite Pierre-Henri Ginlinger Muscat 2004 with my wife Lauren's excellent aromatic carrot soup (recipe in a post to follow) we moved on to our main course of steak alongside a Sordo Barolo 1997 that I had purchased some years ago. This turned out to be much better than the last bottle I had and well worth the €25 paid at the time.

After dinner, we moved on to the H & H 10 Year Malmsey Madeira. This proved to be an absolutely delicious drink that I had yet to experience. With my experience of Madeira being quite limited, I really looked forward to drinking this one and it did not disappoint. It was rich and full and had a lovely nutty flavour. On the finish that went on seemingly forever, I got almost a menthol feeling. When tried with 81% dark chocolate, the pairing was not good at all. With a mature crottin chavignol, it made a delicious duo.

Buy Pierre-Henri Ginglinger Muscat in Ireland

These guys carry the H & H Madeira in Ireland
This is my new (and first) blog. I will use it to rant about anything wine-related or non wine-related from food to politics.