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


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


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


Bavaria 8.6 Absinthe Special Herbal Beer  [Netherlands 500ml can] 8.3% av
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


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.

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

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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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 


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


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