Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rosenhof 2015 AOC Vin d'Alsace Sylvaner

This has the ultimate retro label very reminiscent of of the stuff we bought in Australia in the early 1970s.


This is a very attractive spicy dry white. And while I prefer the crisper German style, The Bride loved it enough to insist we buy half a dozen.

3.88 euro
4/5 rating from me

This could be OUR wine!

This one had the OWL's seal of approval before we opened it. It had mine once we had.

In truth the wine is much better than the label suggests. Full bodied, rich, complex and balanced. It's a wine that will lure us to the south of France if this is what they can produce at this price. It may not be the most prestigious Appellation but if this is any indication it may offer the best red wine value
We went back and bought more for the cellar.

Mythique AOC 2015 Languedoc 
3.95 euro from Casino, France
5/5 rating from me

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

THE BEERS JUST KEEP ON POURING

There's some great value amongst this lot. None particularly rattled my cage but they were all really well priced with no peculiarities even amongst the stronger stuff.

Starberg Premium Blonde 500ml can
0.85eu 5% a/v


Biere Blonde Extra Forte 500ml can
.99eu  10.5% a/v

Amsterdam Navigator Extra Intense 500ml can
1.19eu  8% a/v

All were purchased from Hyper U France and all easily score a 4/5 rating from me

I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER

AC/DC German Beer - Australian Hardrock 500ml can

You’ve got to try these things but for the price I was expecting something special. Instead I scored a ridiculously garish can containing a perfectly average beer. The fact that it’s drinkable stops this from scoring a 1 but it really is appalling value.

2.8eu   2/5 rating from me

Friday, November 11, 2016

BARGAINS, WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

Bavaria 8.6 Absinthe Special Herbal Beer  [Netherlands 500ml can] 8.3% av
1.44eu
This opens so well with an enticing bronze amber dazzling in the glass and a well maintained head. And that’s as good as it gets. This is the classic Category 5 beer that just doesn’t work for me.  In fact it challenges my motto “there’s no such thing as a bad beer, some just taste better than others”. There’s a nasty bitter finish that makes me wonder who does drink it.   1/5 rating 


Beckers Extra Forte 8.0  [Germany 500ml can] 7% av
0.68 eu
Even though it’s a different maker this could be the little brother of the Maximator. Colour is similar, alcohol is high without being extreme and there’s plenty of flavour. At the price it’s a gem and you could possibly drink two.
4.5/5 rating

Brauperle Pils {Germany 500ml can] 4.5% av
0.52 eu
The world needs simple straightforward quaffable lagers and that’s just what this is all about. Great value
4/5 rating

Amsterdam Maximator [Netherlands 500ml can] 11.6% av
1.66 eu
If you can obtain wonderful complex flavours at 3.8% av why bother with a beer that immediately puts over the booze bus limit? Which is why I’ve never been a fan of high alcohol beers – until now. This stuff is extraordinary. Colour is a vibrant red hue that gives the appearance of a darkish sparkling rose. The beer is a meal in itself chock full of intense hop flavours and underlying malt. Make sure you pour it into a quality beer glass and enjoy slowly.
A nervous 5/5 rating from me


Saturday, November 5, 2016

IT'S ALWAYS A GAMBLE AT CASINO

I'm sure we'll be visiting a few more of the 400+ Casino supermarkets over the next two years. One thing I've learnt is that I'll be taking a photo of each wine we buy BEFORE we take it off the shelf. That way I'll know the price and the deal I scored.

COTES OF PROVENCE 2015 ROSE 13.5% a/v
This is the complete mystery wine giving me no clue who the producer is. It's a pretty little wine with a pale blush, delicate palate and a pleasing crisp acidity. I'm pretty sure we scored a "buy one, get one free" deal in which case 2.40 Euro is a 5/5 outstanding buy. I would not want to be paying 4.8 Euro

CLUB DES SOMMELIERS 2015 AOC CORSE ROSE 12.5% a/v 4.5 Euro
While more research is required I'm starting to think that this is a Casino Own Label similar to the concept that many UK supermarket chains practice. 
This is a really classy triple red blend [one is Grenache, the others unknown and unreadable] from Corsica,  Colour is pale salmon while the palate has more weight than most rose we've encountered this year. This is a definite food wine that complemented our steamed local mussels superbly
4.5 rating from me

A LEFFE I LOVE

Never been a great fan of Leffe beers. If I want vegemite I'll have it on my toast, not in my beer.

But here we were doing our first supermarket shopping in France for 36 years and I needed beer. It was a Blonde that I'd not seen before and a mere 6.6% a/v.[some Leffe is 9%] Plus a pack of 24 throwdowns was just 10 euro. What could possibly go wrong? As it turned out, nothing.

It is a an outstanding beer. Full bodied and complex yet still quaffable enough to quench a thirst on a hot day. Everyone should try this once. If you do you'll forgive me if you don't like it. You'll be in the majority. And I just hope the rest of you remember who recommended it.There are thousands of bland beers out there but there is only one Leffe Blonds.

10 Euro a box of Twenty 250ml bottles 

5/5 rating from me


Friday, November 4, 2016

FRENCH SUPERMARKET RECEIPTS CAN BE CONFUSING

So imagine this.
You go into your first ever Casino Supermarket [Villedieu-les-Poêles, Normandy] and are dazzled by the wine selection. So you grab a trolley load, more Cotes du Rhone, more rose and a few Appellations we're yet to taste.
Only one problem. The receipt makes it a tad difficult to work out the individual prices as it simply lists the CDR as "Cotes Rhone" and no surprise all the rose is just "Rose". Fortunately we only bought one each of the random Appellations.

Fortunately all the CDRs were around the same price so it made it possible to rate these wines.
All were between 4.8 and 4.5 euro, all 13% a/v and all were rated 4/5. There are others we've preferred during this tasting jaunt but none of these would disappoint. They all offer a mid weight palate with that unmistakable stalky Grenache character.

Les Vallon AOC 2014 Aux Galets Cotes du Rhone

Club des Sommeliers AOC 2015 Cotes du Rhone 

Victor Delauze AOP 2014 Cotes du Rhone




A PLEASANT BLANDNESS OF BLENDS

We picked up these two wines from Aldi in Mortain, Normandy.
They are from two different Appellations and there's a 0.3 Euro price difference. And they are the ONLY differences.
Both are 2015 blends of Merlot and Cabernet weighing in at 12.5% a/v. Both are perfectly pleasant innocuous red wines and are bargains for what's on offer. They're just not very exciting.


Chateau du Puch 2015 Bordeaux AOP   2.99 Euro

Chateau Touraille 2015 Bergerac AOC   3.29 Euro

3.5 rating from me [they get that extra 0.5 for value - and they will appeal if you want a red without any grunt]

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Chateau Haut Boutisse 2013 Saint Emillion Grand Cru [Merlot Cabernet]


What a disappointment this was! It opened fine for about a minute and then stewed fruit took over. I'm surprised they managed to achieve that at just 12% a/v and annoyed that a wine I selected as a benchmark was not the quality of wines half the price.

2,5 rating from me

8,49 euro from Aldi, France

LIKE A BIT OF CHARDONNAY WITH YOUR WOOD?

On first tasting this is like being hit over the head with a lump of 4 by 2. And that's a shame because on Day 2 the wood had become so much less overt. Day 3 and we had a wine that even The Bride could enjoy.
So here we have a very cheap wine that I reckon has worthwhile cellaring potential. The fruit is spot on, there's plenty of crisp acidity and unfortunately planks of wood. It just needs time to integrate.

Jean Giner 2015 Pays D'oc Chardonnay 
 
2.99 Euro from Aldi. France

4/5 RATING FROM ME

A BARGAIN GEM FROM WESTERN AUSTRALIA"S MARGARET RIVER

There are some justifiably very expensive Cabernet Sauvignons produced in the Margaret River region. And then along comes this bargain gem. It's a perfect example of why the area is famed for this variety [it and Coonawarra are the regular star areas for Cabernet down under]. It's sumptuous and balanced, dripping cassis fruit flavours. Tannins and acid are all in the right spot. Oak is supportive and restrained with much less than many Aussie blockbusters. 
Drink now with plenty of breathing and over the next ten years.
This is a 5/5 rating at £9 - goes off the scale if you pay any less.
Outstanding stuff.




Ringbolt 2014 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon £6.75 from Tesco on promotion
£9 regular
AUD$22 Dan Murphy Australia

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

2016 - THE YEAR OF ROSE

In an enthusiastic effort to keep The Bride happy I have embraced and supported her search for the perfect Rose. Never before have I tasted so many in one year and never have I tasted such affordable quality. And on a couple of balmy late October afternoons in Normandy we debated the merits of these two 

Touraine Amboise 2015 Rose [Gamay and Cabernet Franc blend] 12.5% a/v 3.15 euro 
This was my pick although she found it too dry. I loved the crisp delicacy supported by a classy steely spine. 4.5 rating from me.

Moncigale 2015 Provence Rose [Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre blend] 13% a/v 3.82 euro
With a dash more sweetness this was The Bride's pick. I found it heavy and cloying on opening but this seemed to disappear after ten minutes or so. 4.0 rating from me



Both from Carrefour

YVON MAU 2015 BORDEAUX SAUVIGNON BLANC

This is a steely dry white that relies more on its structure and balance than varietal intensity. If you find Marlborough sauvignon blancs overwhelming this could be the wine for you. An extreme bargain that is well worth  a try. 
2.73 EURO  from Carrefour France 
4.5/5 rating from me 

IT WAS A HOT TWO BEER DAY IN NUREMBERG


There is an eerie feeling standing where the Nazis paraded their might in the 1930s rallies. It's also an incredibly beautiful, stylish place when you reach the walled inner city. 
We arrived on the first day of the autumn markets and amongst hundreds of stalls met the very hospitable Veronica who just insisted I sample all her beers.

 








But with the temperature well over 30C it was time to continue my infatuation with German wheat beers. As with most German towns the only difficulty is making the selection from so many bars.



We settled on the relaxed Zum Spiess Gesellen [Rathausplatz 4] just off the main square. The 500ml Tucher Hefeweizen Hell was verging on orgasmic. Complex sweet and sour zing! I should have ordered another but in the quest to try as many beers as possible I was drawn to the Spiessgesellentrunk. Maybe it was the name but this was better suited to colder weather with a dark nutty intensity.

And why, oh why, are any beers served in anything other than glass? Please let me enjoy the looking at the stuff as I work my way to the bottom.

Both 500 ml, both 3.9 Euro

NUREMBERG GERMANY 15 September 2016

A TALE OF TWO COTES DU RHONE

While there are plenty of grape varieties used to create the Cotes Du Rhone blend Shiraz and Grenache are the dominant two. It can be an unmistakable taste when funky, briary grenache is leaping out of the glass at you. It's one of The Bride's new favourites during our Europe travels and I reckon we have a few thousand to try. and after we finish those there should be a new vintage to start on.
These were both purchased from Aldi in Mortain, south west Normandy. 
Les 3 Couronnes 2015 Cotes du Rhone 3.49 Euro
Charles Adelin Veilles Vignes Selection 2015 Cotes du Rhone 2.89 Euro

Same vintage, same grape varieties [shiraz and grenache] and same alcohol [13.5%] but a world of difference in quality and value. So much so I wouldn't have bothered stocking the cheaper wine in my retail days. 0.6 euro difference is quite ridiculous.

The Les 3 is beautifully balanced delivering a complex depth of flavour that is a pleasant surprise in such an inexpensive wine. 5/5 rating from me. And it's the wine on the left. The other is perfectly pleasant and scores a 3.5

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I'VE NEVER BEEN BREWED BEFORE!

I'd be surprised if one of the world's great beer brands couldn't put on an outstanding show in their home town but I was amazed by how much I enjoyed it.

The Heineken Experience is a tribute to the family history, an explanation of the brewing process and a 
celebration of the marketing genius that's created a beer that appeals to the mass world market.


 
 
 


That you score three small beers for your 15 euro is of minor significance compared to the highlight of "being brewed"  You go into a small theatre and stand on a tiered hydraulic platform which jiggles and shakes along with a few other surprises during a 5 minute video. Worth it just for that.




Thursday, September 1, 2016

ANYONE KNOW A DECENT GINGER BEER?

Unfortunately this isn't it.
Yes, there's plenty of ginger but it's overwhelmingly sweet and there's none of the promised back label zing. Some may like it.

2/5 rating

HATHERWOOD The Ginger Grizzly Alcoholic Ginger Beer 4% a/v 
Lidl Own Label 
£1.25 at Lidl [500ml] 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NOW HERE'S A BEAUTY FOR WINTER

Now THIS back label won't get any dispute from me
"dark, silky and deeply delicious. This full bodied and muscular blend has a coffee roast bitterness at its core. Speciality sugar adds a distinctive toffee flavour to this sleek and smoky mature porter"
YUM!
5/5 rating from me 

HATHERWOOD The Purple Panther Porter 5% a/v 
Lidl Own Label 
£1.25 at Lidl [500ml] 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

HATHERWOOD The Green Gecko IPA 500ml

The back label promises "a tropical thunder storm of big flavour new world hops" that just doesn't wow me as much as I hope from an IPA. A gentle drizzle maybe?

3.5/5 rating from me 
HATHERWOOD The Green Gecko IPA 5% a/v 
Lidl Own Label 
£1.25 at Lidl [500ml] 

Monday, August 29, 2016

RIBOLLA GIALLA - is it contagious?

There are more than 2000 grape varieties used to make wine throughout the world. Some have many names and there's plenty of genetic confusion but I've never encountered RIBOLLA GIOLLA before. Plus I reckon this is my first ever taste of a Slovenian wine. The jury is still out on both.

This is an interesting blend with Sauvignon Blanc and it's about as far removed from the New Zealand version as Coca Cola. It's a little bit chunky but still well worth considering. There's more palate weight than the back label suggests and I don't quite see the "soft elegant finish". 

If you want to experiment I thoroughly recommend it.
3.5 rating from me



Krasno 2015 Sauvignon Blanc/Ribolla Gialla 
£6.99 from Majestic

Sunday, August 28, 2016

REDISCOVERING A FORGOTTEN FAVOURITE

FREIXENET CORDON NEGRO £5.06 [at Sainsbury's with the current 25% discount]

This Spanish success story has been around for a long,long time and has claims to being the biggest selling in the world.
At this price it deserves to be offering quality that is far above what you'd expect. It's clean, crisp and dry with enough complexity to satisfy more demanding tastes - without scaring off anyone looking for a simple quaff


MY VERY FIRST TASTE OF 2016 - from the Casablanca Valley

Every year there's a special moment when you taste the very first wine from that year's vintage. For the first time EVER it's from Chile. And what a spectacular start it is.


For starters the wine is an absolute cracker. Hugely aromatic with masses of florals leading to a dry mid weight palate and enough acid to keep it in balance. But it gets better. This actually aged beautifully over three days and that gave me plenty of time to read the back label.

Apparently only 1% of Chilean wines are planted to Gewurztraminer [there should be more] and apparently one vine produces enough grapes for a bottle. Puts an interesting perspective on the price.


4.5 rating [because not everyone like gewurz]





Morande 
"One to One" 
2016 Old Vines Gewurtztraminer 

£6.99 
from Majestic

Saturday, August 27, 2016

THE GREAT ROSE CHALLENGE BEGINS

So on yet another visit to see what wines Majestic have on tasting, The Bride is inspired to ask "What rose would you recommend?" And that's the great thing about Majestic - everyone knows what they're talking about and £140 later we leave.

Unfortunately in a lifetime of wine retailing I was seldom asked that question but my answer was always "Are you sure that's what you want? Why don't you just put a bit of a chill on a decent red" . I struggle with the point of rose. So much of the character of red grapes is in the skin so why discard that for a pretty pink colour. They're inevitably in a clear bottle to show off this pretty pink and while they aren't made to age the clear bottle just means they teeter into aged oblivion very quickly.

To Mr Majestic's credit all these wines met the brief almost perfectly. They were crisp. lean, plenty of acid and DRY but where was the fruit. All beautifully made roses, all a little over the odds in price and all very recommendable if that's what you're looking for.
3.5/5 rating from me [probably less from TB]


Minuty 2015 Cotes de Provence £9.99
Commanderie de Peyrassol 2015 Cotes de Provence £9.99
Chateau Pigoudet 2015 La Chapelle Cotes de Provence £8.99