Categories
Wine articles

Two wines kept too long

A very quick post today as a sort of addendum to my article on cellaring ordinary wines. I  bought a few bottles of Qupe syrah 11 from Majestic last year. This is their basic syrah from the Central Coast of California. It wasn’t cheap – £18 I think – and it wasn’t very good. I found it jammy with a not terribly nice whiff of oak about it. I think I gave a few bottles away or left them on tables at parties. Yesterday I found one in the cupboard that I call my cellar. It has been there for about a year.

My wife and I drank a bottle of it fairly quickly with homemade pizzas. After a year in the cellar it had lost the oaky smell and had lost the jam too. Instead it was spicy and fresh. It had a real purity about it. I’ve always thought that a dull wine won’t get any better if you keep it but in this case the extra year worked wonders. I wish I had more.

Soon it was all gone so I dug out something else to have for the nail-biting last minutes of the England France match. It was a cinsault from the Languedoc (Domaine Combe Blanche L’ Incompris 2011.) When I first tried it, it reminded be of a simple New World pinot noir. It was one of my favourite wines of 2013. Now two years later, it had gone all muddy and sweet with an unpleasant leathery smell. It tastes how I imagine Burgundy used to taste when it was cooked up in a warehouse in Ipswich from Beaujolais and Algerian plonk.

Horrid, though maybe if I’d kept it another year it would emerge as something beautiful. Probably not but then I never thought that Qupe syrah would get any better.

Categories
Wine articles

My favourite pub: The Hare in Bethnal Green

Before moving to Lewisham (or Blackheath as I sometimes say when in polite company) a couple of years ago, I spent twelve years living in the East End of London. The thing I miss most about my old neighbourhood is not the secondhand clothes shops or the trendy restaurants but an old boozer on Cambridge Heath Road called The Hare.

It’s not the most immediately charming of places. The carpet is worn and some of the seats have repaired with gaffer tape. Some of the clientele look a little insalubrious. On a Saturday afternoon there will be football shirts and shaven-headed men shouting at the telly, things I normally hate.

London pubs tend staffed by itinerant Poles and Australians who are here to make money and, for all their friendliness, are not committed to the place at which they work. They seem to change every week. Not so at the Hare. The landlord’s, Julian, presence permeates this place. The beer is excellent because Julian is interested in real ale. He used to work at Young’s brewery when they were in Wandsworth. He is a jazz fan so they have jazz on a Sunday. The Cockney girls who work there know what you drink and will serve it with a saucy smile. Once when my brother ordered me a pint, the barmaid, Tanya, sharply corrected him: ‘he doesn’t drink that one, he drinks Landlord!’

Whereas most pubs in London especially in the fashionable East End attract tribes, the Hare is a real focus for the community. You get old people, young people, black people, white people, middle-aged mods, trendy girls with silly haircuts, the beautiful people and the local builders. I follow the Hare on Facebook and intermingled with rants about Arsenal’s decline, Julian reflects on how quickly East London is changing. Rather than bemoan gentrification, he seems delighted to have such a genuinely diverse clientele.

Best of all the Hare makes no pretence towards gastronomy, food means crisps or they sometimes let you eat a kebab from next door with your pint. There aren’t many places like this left but the Hare is thriving. Oh and did I mention that it’s cheap.

The Hare, 505 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London. E2 9BU

If anyone knows any pubs like it preferably in South East London, please let me know. 

This originally appeared on the Dabbler.

Categories
Wine articles

How I stopped being a snob and learned to love Australian wine

Extremely proud to have made the front cover of the Australian‘s Life section (click on image for full article.)

oz