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Wine articles

Win wine

My good friends at the Marsala Marketing Board have made me an offer I cannot refuse. They have donated a bottle of Florio’s Terre Arse (tee hee!) 2000 to give away to my readers. All you have to do is is come up with a limerick with the word ‘marsala’ in it. Something like: ‘there was a young man from Marsala/ who had a passion for Mahler.’ Entries must be clean or at least cleanish or I won’t be able to post them online in case my mother is reading. The one that makes me laugh the most wins. To enter this incredible competition you must subscribe to World of Booze and then email your entry to henrycastiglione at hotmail dot com. I’ll only post within Britain so if you enter from abroad, you’ll have to come and pick up the wine. Competition closes at the end of May or later if I don’t get enough funny limericks. The winner and any funny runners-up will have their limericks posted on the site. If none of them make me laugh, then there will be no winner.

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Wine articles

That would be an ecumenical matter

From watching Father Ted, we all know that in a religious discussion you can’t go wrong by saying: ‘that would be an ecumenical matter.’ That way you will always sound like you know what you’re talking about. Recently I’ve been drinking wine with people with vastly more experience than me. It’s a nerve-wracking experience when a Master of Wine, leans over and says ‘what do you think?” My mind normally goes blank and all I can think of is ‘very nice.’

Recently, however, I have discovered the wine-tasting equivalent of ‘that would be an ecumenical matter.’ Here it is: ‘it seems a bit a closed to me.’ Doesn’t sound that impressive, does it? All it means is that the wine in question isn’t tasting of very much at the time. This could be because the wine is too young, too cold, isn’t very good, has only just been opened or, and this is the best part, just because your nose isn’t working as well as it should do on that particular day (top wine writer Fiona Beckett writes on this phenomenon here.) Once you say ‘it’s a bit closed’, people will normally nod and say ‘mmmmm I think you’re right’ or they might disagree but you’ll always sound like you know what you’re talking about.

Photo courtesy of Hat Trick productions. 

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Wine articles

California stars

I’m thinking of moving to LA and becoming a Disney baddie. I’ve been told that I’ve got the voice for it. In preparation for this, I’m trying to develop a taste for Californian wines. This is difficult as most of them are either expensive, not available in Britain or expensive & not available in Britain. On a trip to Californian wine country in 2009, I found that the wines I liked best – favourites were Tablas Creek in Paso Robles and Unti in Sonoma – were those made from Southern French and Italian varieties. With this in mind I decided to only try Southern grapes* at the recent California tasting in London.

Here are a couple of stars:

Wind Gap ‘Orra’ GMC 2009 – a blend of Grenache, Cornoise and Mouvedre. This was a lovely pale red/ orange colour. It tasted spicy with a strong flavour of herbs. One would be tempted to use the word ‘garrique’ to describe it. Only the touch of sweetness let me know that we’re weren’t in the Southern Rhone.

Birichino Grenache 2010 – smells of raspberries with a touch of smoke. The palate is firm with very bright clean fruit, dry with not a trace of jam.  My kind of wine.

I liked these wines for their poise and general deliciousness. Most of the wines I tried, however, were far too ripe, extracted, alcoholic and oaky for my tastes. The same three words came up again and again, sweet, oak and jam. Arguably, this is the Californian style – they do have all that sunshine so grapes will be riper – and I’ll have to get used to it but it’s a style that obliterates all nuance of place or vintage. These monsters are designed – designed being the operative word – to impress, not to sip with food. The better wines have the balance of the old world models but with a brightness of fruit as if they’re in technicolor. I want more like these.

Now a word on price. These wines are expensive, £15-20 and neither of them are widely available in this country. They’re at least a third more than the equivalent Rhone wines. I hope being a Disney baddie pays well.

* I did ignore my rules a few times to try some amazing and expensive Pinot Noirs from Au Bon Climat in Santa Barbera and Hanzell in Sonoma.