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Everything posted by britcook

  1. Sadly yes, at a tasting we couldn't work out why the contents of a screw top bottle were "corked", we put it down to poor winemaking but maybe it was not in the way we thought.
  2. britcook

    UK Burgundy Buying

    True, but you couldn't buy Domaine Leflaive at just over a tenner a bottle. In Burgundy find the negociants you trust.
  3. britcook

    i don't like wine

    Contradictory as it might sound, if you're a beginner or "don't like" wine then the last place to go is to a wine expert because almost certainly the kind of wine you'll find approachable will be frowned on by somebody with a developed palate. Why? Because to an uneducated palate the wine needs to be soft, unstructured, slightly sweet, relatively low alcohol, really not significantly different to a soft drink which is the starting reference point for most beginners. On the other hand the more experienced wine drinker is looking for structure, balance, complexity and other nuances which they have come to appreciate over the years. Like everything else start simple and work up complexity to a point you feel comfortable with at your own pace. If you don't like "sophisticated" wines then don't start there (which is why a MoW makes a rotten teacher for a beginner!). If you were learning the violin you wouldn't start with a Stradivarius.
  4. britcook

    UK Burgundy Buying

    Well you can get the odd bargain if you want to move into slightly more obscure areas, I've just got some Olivier Leflaive Pernand-Vergelesses 2000 from Corney & Barrow for an entirely reasonable £130/case, this particular appelation may not be immediately familiar but Leflaive is a good winemaker and worth a punt. I suspect you wouldn't get this anywhere else but the UK.
  5. I think that is a terrific idea. A restaurant owning friend of mine certainly does too, marks up the "Liebfraumilch/Mateus Rose" end of the scale and has tighter margins on some of the more obscure but good wines at the bottom end of the price scale so that for those with knowledge, or prepared to take a risk, can always find something drinkable at the low cost end of the wine list. Also he does try to find decent examples of those wines requested by the "masses" and frowned on by the cognoscenti, so for example he doesn't stock Mateus Rose but does have a Provencal Rose which does have a bit of character and also gets him engaged in conversation with the customer which can allow for a little education.
  6. britcook

    UK Wine Merchants

    I use Waitrose but we don't get ocado deliveries, occasionally Virgin, especially when they have decent offers and we're fortunate to have a small local merchant who also does mail order The Bottleneck, only a small list but they will try and source outside the range if you mail them. Very handy if it's on the doorstep so to speak.
  7. britcook

    Potluck envy

    I'm not surprised they didn't touch it. It could be the greatest Penne Puttanesca in the world and most people would pass it by in a buffet line. Visually it's not appealing, stubby chunks of cold pasta with a lumpy covering of unidentified red sauce. Even in the bizarre world of the potluck you're going to struggle with that.
  8. britcook

    is this a decanter?

    In the realms of personal experience the one on the left IS a decanter the one on the right is NOT. But if you say the one on the right is definitely a decanter what do I know?
  9. britcook

    Wine and Chocolate

    Possibly the wrong forum but for pairing with chocolate Guinness goes surprisingly well.
  10. britcook


    I can't disagree with this very strongly since I haven't drunk a wine not from Chablis that really tasted like Chablis But it seems reasonable that somewhere in South America there is a bit of land which could do quite well. Given the context of Craig's original article which led to this post you're almost certainly right, you could make a passable Chablis clone in several places in the world, but what makes Chablis what it is rather than just another dry, lightly oaked Chardonnay is that "mineral" edge which is said to to derive from the Kimmeridge limestone under the vineyards. I suppose you could try growing it at the other side of the Kimmeridge basin which is in Dorset, England but then the climate would be different. If you found somewhere with a similar climate and a limestone base you might come closer! I suppose it depends on how discriminating your palate is and how much you're prepared to pay for a subtle difference.
  11. britcook


    Terroir is not a European "invention", but is certainly used by some winemakers to support their inflated prices, after all you can only produce Chateau Latour at Chateau Latour, even more specifically from the wines in the Grand Enclos otherwise it's Les Forts de Latour. This does not mean that good, even excellent wine cannot be made elsewhere, it's just that it doesn't reflect its origins as closely. Whether you wish to pay a premium for wines with a known provenance is a different matter.
  12. britcook


    I know that, it was just that in another thread I indicated that that Craig Camp's definition of terroir was not sufficiently accurate and he suggested that I post something about the differences between terroir, microclimate and climat. It is not a diatribe, you may not like my style but please don't patronise my motives. "Those of us who know wine well" indeed.
  13. britcook


    Well I admit I had to look up autochthony, but I figure I'm not alone. Varietal is certainly part of the terroir, certain geographical, geological and climatic conditions make an area more suitable for certain grape varieties. Sure you can grow Chardonnay practically anywhere but you can't make it taste like Chablis anywhere but Chablis. You can try (and usually fail) to make a decent wine out of Pinot Noir anywhere in the world but the Cote d'Or will still make the best Burgundy. The varietal suits the terroir and vice versa, and to that extent the varietal IS part of the terroir. A short definition? Terroir is the ability of a wine to tell you about the the area it was produced in. As for Cornas, always a case of the Clape.
  14. britcook


    This post was suggested by Craig Camp when we struggled over definitions So what is terroir? This French word has no exact English translation, terrain or territory don’t cover the sense of place this term covers. It encompasses all the factors in a vineyard or wine area which give a wine its individual character, it’s why, at least when wines are produced by a small winemaker rather than a large conglomerate, an educated oenophile can tell not only what commune a wine comes from but can sometimes distinguish the individual vineyard even when adjacent vineyards produce wine in the same style. For instance many chateaux produce at least two wines from the same property, the Grand Vin is produced from the more favoured terroirs, the second wine from poorer parts of the estate, such as those with more clay and smaller rocks which have poorer drainage. The major components of terroir are the soil itself (and its underlying layers), the physical properties and nutrient or mineral content, type such as clay or sand, drainage, aspect, altitude and binding these all together is the climate as experienced in that particular small location. Then you get other influences such as the type of wild yeasts that grow on the grapes and local flora and fauna which in turn (together with geological and climatic conditions) determine what method of viticulture is used. In the days when the (French) industry was made up of many relatively small producers they would take the product of the terroir and use the simplest basic techniques to turn it into wine. What you tasted in the glass accurately reflected the place it had come from. Then along came the modernisers, the bulk processors who used all the new techniques of vinification to produce wines of consistent, if moderate, quality which owed nothing to the area they were grown and everything to the techniques of the winemaker. In the latest wave these new techniques are being used to accentuate the qualities of the terroir on which the wine was grown whilst taking out some of the risk factors which led to some less than stellar vintages. Strangely enough we talk about the quality of the soil but generally poor soil will give low yields of good quality wine while rich soil will give greater yield but of lesser quantity. In poor soil the vine has to develop a deep and extensive root system to extract moisture and nutrients from the subsoil which contains the minerals needed for good quality growth. Different soils lend themselves to growing different kinds of wines, so good white wines are often grown on chalky or limestone soils, on the other hand granite is more suited to red wines. Drainage, for both water and air, is also part of terroir. Water must drain freely so that the roots do not get waterlogged in downpours but must also be accessible to the root system during prolonged dry spells, and this will be determined by its granularity, type and the frequency of rocks and stones in the soil. Air drainage can also be important, vines on lower slopes and valley bottoms can be affected by cold air which settles and has no place else to go and it sits there chilling the vines. Geographical location is important, how high are the vines, do they catch the rising or setting sun for maximum sunlight, do they face south, are they shadowed, all of which will alter the ripening pattern of the grapes which in turn may affect the finished wine. Which brings us to climate, the temperature, sunlight and rainfall through the growing season, the way that the local geography can influence these to produce small climate zones which can be surprisingly different from neighbouring properties or areas. Usually, but incorrectly, called microclimates these mesoclimates can determine the amount of cloud cover, they can cause a rain shadow, make an area prone to frost and the presence and proximity of large bodies of water (from rivers upwards to oceans) will also moderate the local climate. To clarify the definition, strictly speaking microclimate refers to the climatic conditions within a confined area from fractions of an inch to a few yards, mesoclimate applies from a few yards to a few miles, after that we’re into area macroclimates. All of these will have an effect on the growth, ripening and quality of the grapes. So all in all areas which look fairly similar can produce radically different results. The only parallel I can think to draw (although there must be better) is in a city, two adjacent areas no more than a block apart, in one you could walk down the street at night with an elderly relative and feel entirely safe, in the other you wouldn’t go out in the day without heavy protection. To finish up there is the term used in Burgundy, climat, which roughly translated (and there is no other way) means an area with the same geographic and climatic conditions and is usually equivalent, because that’s the way they arrange things in Burgundy, to a vineyard.
  15. Very gracious, I'll check out my notes and sources and try to propose an explanation, may take a day or two.
  16. Sorry to disagree with someone whose knowledge vastly exceeds mine but that Herbst definition is pretty good for terroir but appalling for microclimate, which in itself is often misused. The canopy microclimate is about the right spatial level, at vineyard level it should (strictly) probably be mesoclimate. However using terroir in the sense it is commonly understood (those included in the definition) the article is spot-on.
  17. The usual high standard except for one uncharacteristic slip.. "terroir (the taste the specific vineyard microclimate gives the wine)" Terroir is about rather more than the microclimate, it's about soil, aspect, viticulture and climate - micro or otherwise.
  18. Mr Scruton is obviously not to be trusted (something I have long suspected). For complete information there are four distinct categories of still English Wine >English Vineyards Quality Wine Produced in a Specified Region (psr) Wine made from grapes grown in England from one or more of the approved varieties that has been entered for and passed the Quality Wine Scheme. Not all approved varieties are permitted to be used for Quality Wines >English Counties Regional Wine Wine made from grapes grown in England from one or more of the approved varieties that has been entered for and passed the Regional Wine Scheme. This wine is still a Table Wine (equivalent to a French ‘Vin de Pays’) but does not need to bear the name ‘Table Wine’ >English Table Wine Wine made from grapes grown in England from one or more of the approved varieties that is not a Regional Wine or a Quality Wine >UK Table Wine Wine made from UK grown grapes where the grape variety used is not an approved one.
  19. British wine (fast disappearing I'm relieved to say) is bulk product finished in the UK, fortified and once sold as "British Sherry". To be avoided at all costs. English wine is grown and vinified here. Long under-rated, some vineyards have been producing reasonable wine for years. Although it's never going to be of stellar quality it is now well made and even the reds can be acceptable, the whites are often worth seeking out, mostly of Germanic style but not always. The sparkling wine ("Champagne"), especially that produced by Nyetimber in Sussex is excellent and often wins in competition against established "real champagne" makers.
  20. Whatever your opinion of the average American donut (and most are distinctly average) the classic Krispy Kreme is entirely different and superior product. You have to taste to believe. Get 'em while they're hot!
  21. At the risk of being over pedantic again, "getting it" is not the same as "liking it". Take the recently mentioned head cheese, whether you like it or not you should be able to see why it came about, why it developed in the way it did and why those ingredients came together in the finished product. In other words you should get it. But you don't have to like it.
  22. On the original premise what don't you get, I will commit blatant heresy and say I just don't get Chinese food, be it Cantonese or other variation. That's not to say I haven't enjoyed the occasional dish but never as much as my Sinophile friends. All that effort, all that presentation and in the end it's wasted on me my usual attitude is why did they bother. Now Japanese cuisine is different, I "get" Japanese cuisine, just don't like it much. My worst nightmare was a working trip to Tokyo a couple of years ago, presented with all this exquisite food that made me want to barf (even some of the bits of cow in the Kobe beef bar). The greatest relief on the last night was escaping our minders and hitting the European restaurant in the hotel!
  23. NoNoNoNoooooo! One KK isn't enough and six is way too many!
  24. Just to confirm previous views that David's is excellent, although the hill to it is quite steep and if you go by wheeled transport (cab/car) you're only likely to get as far as the police checkpoint outside the US Embassy. Lighting when we were there was quite subdued so they have obviously taken notice. Restaurant Flambee was also a delight and the menu degustation is definitely to be recommended, pricewise it's about 50% more than David's. Desserts at both these restaurants are disappointing, Flambee particularly so. As a general point go for local wines, not only are they excellent but they are considerably cheaper than the imports. Prague, although cheaper than major cities in Western Europe and the US, is clearly getting pricier and next year when they join the E.C. expect prices to rise much more rapidly.
  25. britcook


    Stick it in the gas tank of your car when you want a little extra oooomph.
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