jamie goode's blog
about wine... mostly

wineanorak home | archive

Blog archive

Wednesday 26th March
Two brilliant wines last night that just matched the occasion, a rather mundane Tuesday evening with some deadlines getting tight... First up, Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc 2002 (Stellenbosch, South Africa). This had a knockout nose of rich, grassy, blackcurrant-edged fruit. I drink a lot of Sauvignon, and get a little bored with it sometimes, but this was as striking as my first experience with Cloudy Bay, almost a decade ago. Yours for £6.99 from Majestic. The second wine was an old favourite, the Mouton Syrah 2000, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes. This was performing just perfectly, with ripe raspberry fruit backed up with a lovely savoury meatiness and good acid (La Vigneronne, £6.95). More please. 

Monday 24th March
The flurry of interest created by my recent Wine Magazine piece on supertasters rolls on.  The story has found its way into the news, via The Times, The Daily Mail and the BBC News website. They've all taken the rather simplistic line that supertasters make the best wine tasters, but it's still nice to see this interesting science get a wider airing. I don't get a mention as author of the original article, but Wine Magazine get a much deserved plug. I am going to be interviewed on BBC Radio Wales later today, at around 4.55 pm, in connection with this story. Through the marvels of the Internet interested readers can listen in by following the link on this page. The last time I was interviewed on BBC radio was when I was a member of a folk band, but the less said about this the better. 

Sunday 23rd March
We’ve just had a delightful lazy, sunny, relaxed weekend in Twickenham. The first really sunny, warm weekend of spring is always special, but this one has been especially enjoyable. It’s not that we’ve done much; just chilled and pottered around, really. On Saturday we wandered into Twickenham. It was one of the rugby days, and with 72 000 rugby fans descending on the neighbourhood you tend to do everything on foot since the traffic gets a little busy. Still, it creates a bit of a buzz about the place, and the rugby crowd tend to be fairly well mannered even if they’re drunk. We lunched by the river, and on the way back I popped into the fishmonger to pick up a lovely fresh sea bass for dinner. This was served with two different Rieslings. The first, Brundlmayer’s Zobinger Heiligenstein 1997 (from Austria’s Kamptal region) would have been quite profound, lively and minerally, but after about 20 minutes the faintest trace of mustiness showed up: it was corked, if only ever so slightly. More successful was the Villa Maria Reserve (Black Label) Riesling 2000, from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. This was just beautifully poised and quite intense. Great balance, and fully justifying its £10 price tag (Oddbins). It suited the sea bass pretty well, too. Tonight I’m going to switch continents again and try the Buitenverwachting Riesling (South Africa’s Constantia region is home to this). I’ll report back.

Thursday 20th March
Prompted by the Riesling tasting mentioned below, I banged out a short piece looking at why Riesling is such a hard sell with the public. One point I didn't make, and which probably deserves some discussion, is that its relative unpopularity with punters is due to the fact that there isn't much good cheap Riesling. Perhaps if there were more palatable sub-£5 Rieslings then the grape might be more generally popular. I'm sitting here scratching my head and I can't think of any. Penfolds Bin 202 is just under a fiver, but the last time I tried it it was bright, lemony, sherbetty and a little confected. Hardly inspiring. Suggestions welcome. Talking of grapes, it's been difficult to decide what to plant on the Twickenham vineyard (vineyard??...more like a few rows of straggly vines on my allotment). I started off with Bacchus, a grape that does well in English conditions, making flowery, grassy Sauvignon-like wines. I have about 20 of these vines. I added some Huxelrebe (c. 7 vines) and then some Pinot Noir (c. 15). I've a few rows left to fill. I'm going to leave some space for Phoenix, a new disease resistant cross that does well in the UK and apparently makes good wine. The picture on the right shows my Phoenix cuttings (a gift from Peter May) beginning to bud.  

Monday 17th March
I’ve been feeling a little buoyed by the positive feedback I’m having from my latest Wine Magazine feature. It’s on the subject of individual taste differences, and how these relate to wine – pitched this time at a general consumer audience and a little less involved than an article I did on the subject last year in Harpers, and which also made it into South Africa's Good Taste magazine. [It's been a nice earner, this subject...] In his editorial, publisher Robert Joseph says, ‘Jamie Goode’s analysis of this controversial subject is one of the most fascinating pieces to have appeared in Wine Magazine since its launch in 1983’. Gosh! I’m flattered…

Spent a short while today at the Great Riesling Tasting, but not as long as it deserved. Organized by a keen and rather select band of importers, Riesling wines from around 40 different estates around the globe were on show. Credit to them for putting on such an interesting tasting, which will be followed this evening with a consumer event. Certainly among the trade and press, Riesling has pulling power. Not the largest of venues, the Royal United Services Institute was a little over-run, which made tasting a little difficult. I concentrated on three producers: Donnhof in the Nahe, FX Pichler in the Wachau and Josmeyer in Alsace. All were first class, yet quite different to each other.

Saturday 15th March
A near perfect March day. Lots of sunshine and warm enough to sit outside at the White Horse in Hedgerly, savouring a pint of Rebellion. This is an almost perfectly balanced, beautifully crafted cask-conditioned ale, served in good condition. A drink like this is a national treasure: Britain’s answer to Grand Cru Burgundy or first-growth Bordeaux. Interestingly, with beer there isn’t the same sort of price differential as with wine. This pint of near-perfect ale is the same price as a pint of bland, insipid nitrokeg beer, even though they are poles apart in terms of quality and interest. Last night we had some interesting wines. First, an earthy, evolved 1992 Chambolle Musigny from Ghislaine Barthod. This was followed by a robust, youthful-tasting 1996 Domaine du Baruel from the Cevennes. We then cracked a 1999 Ch Rozier from St Emilion – quite fleshy and ripe with more concentration than you might expect for an £11 Bordeaux. The Old East India Sherry from Lustau finished things off in a sweet, sticky, raisiny, delicious sort of way.

Thursday 13th March
One of the worst aspects of cork taint is the potential for disappointment it brings every time you open a bottle that you are looking forward to trying. Last night I cracked open a bottle of Goat Roti 2001, the upmarket sibling of the brilliant Goats du Roam, the successful red blend from South Africa’s Fairview. I knew fairly soon that it was not as it should be, although it was hard to be sure that it was suffering from TCA, the cork taint culprit. It was still enjoyable enough and most people would have happily drunk it. But despite the fact that there was no obvious mustiness – difficult to pick out in such a concentrated, exuberantly spiciliy fruited wine – the rather subdued, muted fruit and a hint of dullness on the palate eventually convinced me it was low level cork-tainted, and I couldn’t touch it. It’s a shame, because this was just the right wine for the moment. One thing most people are aware of are that for molecules such as TCA there are two sorts of sensory threshold. First, there is the detection threshold, where they can spot that something is wrong without being able to pin it down. Second, there is the recognition threshold, where people can actually identify the molecule. I suspect that this poor old Goat Roti was somewhere in the middle for me. Aside: for those who missed out on Goat Roti on release (it sold through very quickly), Oddbins now have some more, although the price has now crept up to £9.99.

Tuesday 11th March
Some weekend wines. First, a relatively disappointing Jaboulet Crozes Hermitages ‘Thalabert’ 1995. I remember the 1990 Thalabert as a spectacular effort: the 1995 is intensely savoury with some earthy, spicy character, but overall it’s a little mean, thin and acidic. Fine as a food companion, but I was expecting better. The Clare Valley is one of Australia’s two leading regions for Riesling (the other is the Eden Valley), and Knappstein’s 1997 Hand Picked Riesling is drinking nicely at the moment. Not profound, but beginning to evolve some typical petrolly, toasty aromas to go with the bright limey fruit. This would be lovely with a nice grilled fish. Sticking with Australia, the 1996 Footbolt Old Vine Shiraz from D’Arenberg is still alive and kicking. The vivid, up-front fruit this wine that typifies this wine in its youth has now receded. Now it is intensely spicy, with some sweetness from the American oak that was initially lavished upon it. I don’t know whether this evolved state is an improvement – on balance I’d probably rather have this style of wine in its first flush of youth. It makes me think of Spain, actually, which brings me round to the next wine: the 2001 Vina Esmerelda from Torres. In its Germanic-style tall bottle, you might expect this blend of Gewurztraminer and Muscat to be medium sweet. Infact, it’s bone dry. Fresh as you like, sealed with a screwcap, with some pretty sweet floral notes, but rather lean and acidic on the palate. Needs food, again, where it could work very well. Speaking of food, we had two pleasant wines by the glass at a Cafe Rouge near London Bridge on Saturday (aside: surprisingly good food and excellent service made for a nice family lunch, after a visit to HMS Belfast, which two 5 and 6 year old boys loved). The Alain Brumont Tannat/Merlot was just right, with a nice density of savoury structured fruit, and the Valdivieso Sauvignon Blanc was zippy, fruity and correct. I can't recall the vintages. Both matched their respective dishes very well. Two more cheapie whites to finish. First, the 2001 Avila (a nicely packaged branded Vin de Pays; shame about the rather plonkish, crude wine) and the 2001 Riverview Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay (from the Hilltop winery, again nicely packaged but this time the wine is really good: fresh and crisp with lovely balance, a steal at £2.99 from Waitrose). Nothing that really stands out here, but some interesting drinking in places. 

Tuesday 4th March
A newspaper wine columnist? This is the bit where I extend a hearty welcome to any readers who have found their way here from my new wine column in the Western Mail (Welsh national daily newspaper). A newspaper wine column – mine is in the Saturday magazine section – is a new departure for me. It’s meant that I’ve had to start paying much more attention to the requirements of a general reader, and looking with more scrutiny at where the best value is among sub-£5 bottles. This is a healthy discipline. It also means that I’m facing up to many of the issues outlined in the series I did on the two cultures. Readers who live in Wales will have to let me know how they think I’m doing with my recommendations.

Low budget BBC? Interesting to note that the BBC news website is asking readers to submit digital images of global events. Is this a tight-waddish move by the corporation to save on picture agency fees? After all, why pay, when you can get it for free?

Sunday 2nd March
This afternoon I’ve completed the satisfying job of pruning my vines. It’s a process full of metaphor: the drastic, almost brutal cutting back of the plant that is essential to ensure that next year’s crop is of good quality. I have about 50 vines of four different varieties (the white grapes Bacchus, Huxelrebe and Madeleine Angevine, together with Pinot Noir). This year I’ll be introducing a fifth variety, Phoenix, which I’ll be growing from cuttings kindly sent by Peter May, who runs www.pinotage.org. Phoenix is a white grape that is a relatively new crossing, bred for resistance to fungal diseases as well as making good quality wine. Most of my vines are still young, so this year should see the first proper harvest. Who knows? I might even make some wine. The biggest problem so far hasn’t been ripening the grapes, but keeping them healthy, and my aim for the 2003 growing season is to defeat powdery and downy mildew by early and regular application of sulphur and Bordeaux mixture. I’ll also be trying spraying with 10% milk v/v. This may sound barmy, but there are some good new data showing that this is quite an effective control mechanism against mildew. It’s cheap and it’s certainly environmentally friendly, so it has to be worth a go.

Monday 24th February
Back to the normal routine again today, after a two week break. Holidays are important. It doesn't matter where you go, but a change of scene for a couple of weeks, at least once a year, is a high priority chez Goode. You come back feeling fresher inside your head, with a renewed perspective: I don't know of many other ways of achieving this. And February is a particularly good time to take a break like this. When we left it was the glum dead of winter. Now we're back and nature seems to be showing plenty of signs of impending awakening; spring isn't far off -- it's a hopeful time of year. 

Of course, the temptation is to think that if holidays are so great, and so useful in sorting our heads out, then why shouldn't we try to make the whole year round a holiday. Hence the current profusion of TV shows combining the British love of property (and home improvement) with the desire to make life one permanent holiday. We have the rather limply presented 'A Place In The Sun', where the show's producers try to find a suitable overseas pad for wantaway Brits, usually on a very tight budget. Exploring the theme a little further there is Ricochet's wonderful 'No Going Back'. This compulsive C4 series follows Brit families who are relocating abroad. In most cases they are woefully underfunded and ill-prepared, and disaster usually strikes. But they tend to pull through in the end. A must see. So far, they haven't found any prospective vignerons to follow. 

The problem is, holidays are only great when they act as a counter to our normal lives. I'd love to have 12 h unbroken sleep every night, but that's only because I don't really get enough normally. And being confined to bed for 18 h a day, for example, would be torture. Yes, a couple of weeks every now and again is enough holiday for me. But I still have that vigneron fantasy... 

Saturday February 8th
Had a remarkable wine last night. It was a Montlouis Sec, from Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups, 1998 vintage. Montlouis is an appellation in the Loire, near Vouvray, and the grape here is the widely misunderstood Chenin Blanc. 'Chenin Blanc is like a difficult child', says Nicolas Joly, who uses it to make impressive (and expensive) Savennières. 'They will go on to be either a genius or a terrorist.' Well, this Montlouis isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I find it thrillingly individual. It begins quite tamely with a nose showing waxy, straw-like notes. After a while it picks up momentum and comes across with lifted mineral notes and some strong, soft cheesy aromas. Sounds weird, and it is a bit. The palate is bone dry, with more cheesy, waxy notes and high acidity. Great concentration and quite a bit of complexity, but very challenging. I'd say it was more an intellectual than a sensual experience, and a world away from accessible, slightly sweetly fruited new world Chardonnay, which is what most people expect from white wine these days. The continued existence of wines like this Montlouis is a cause for celebration. Let's celebrate the triumph of the appellation system in preserving this diversity.

Tuesday 4th February
Apparently Rioja has had its largest snowfall for 50 years. I received a picture taken on Friday at the 300 ha Ygay estate of Bodega Marqués de Murrieta, from their UK PR company, which I thought I'd share (right). 

Today was the annual press tasting of Winetraders, a UK agent specializing in Italian wines, run by Michael Palij MW. Some interesting wines, including top notch Tuscans from Castello di Bossi, the stunning wines of Inama (some seriously exciting efforts; full report to follow) and some intriguing, brilliant Barolos from Mascarello. Palij has some interesting things to say in the introduction to his price list. 'What bores me rigid are the oceans of predictable, winemaking by numbers, varietally labelled tedium that continues to haemorrhage from the new world,' he says, 'and the press diligently reviews them week after week as if they, or anyone else, can tell the difference one from another.' I quite agree, Micheal. 'Wake up to a country bursting with wines that will both excite and challenge you', he implores. It's true that Italian wines aren't widely known in the UK. Considering that Italy makes more wine than France, and with a similar diversity of styles, it's surprising that we are generally so ignorant of them.    

Tuesday 28th January
As I write, I’m sipping the Vin de Pays d’Agenais 1999 from Elian da Ros – a brilliant bargain in the recent La Vigneronne sale at a staggering £2.08 a bottle (by the case). It’s not a wine for everyone though, with its challenging array of savoury flavours, high acid and firm tannins. Unfiltered, it sheds a mound of sediment. It’s a bit of a brute actually, but it has that magical sense of place (in this case, the southwest of France) that I look for in a wine, almost above anything else. I’d rather have a rather rustic, rough-edged wine with a sense of place than some polished but ultimately anonymous international creation. My brother-in-law, William Beavington (pictured on the right -- he's moaned about never being mentioned here before), bought a couple of cases of this on my recommendation, along with a whole bunch of other stuff. He’s one among many who I suspect will find this sort of thing just a bit extreme to be enjoyable. In fact, he phoned up to offer me the remaining 23 bottles he has at cost. I’ll take him up on it. This is one of the interesting things about wine: even geekish types have different taste preferences. This is where scores or ratings alone fall down. Indeed, one of the goals of my tasting notes is to give you, as a reader, a good sense of whether you will enjoy a particular wine. As a (wannabe?) critic, I can’t let my personal preferences override an assessment of the quality of a particular wine. Yet I’m aware that the preferences of some readers will be for classic old-world styles. When I assess a big oaky Australian Shiraz, I may decide that according to its genre, it’s a brilliant example of this type of wine and worthy of an excellent rating. In my note, though, I’ll try to warn off the old-world-classic-only buffs who I know would find this sort of wine repellent. As for Beavington, I'm disappointed he didn't like this wine, but I think he did rather well with a previous recommendation of mine, securing two cases of the 1999 Jamet Côte Rôtie en primeur. I wouldn't mind buying back this at offer price. He also has a bottle of Pingus 1996 which he got *for free* and which he has promised to share with me.

Wednesday 22nd January
Hermitage 2000

As I write, I’m on my way back from one of the most disappointing tastings I’ve yet attended. But it was also highly illuminating. It was a blind tasting of Hermitage 2000 at La Vigneronne. We tried 10 different wines, although one was a ringer and another was Chave’s Hermitage Blanc 2000 (which was probably the best of the bunch in terms of absolute quality). The overall impression was that this was a very weak vintage in the region, and most of the wines were simply not good enough to be sold as Hermitage at £30–£100 per bottle. For once, I scored these wines out of 100, as well as using my normal scoring system. I’ll go through them, starting with the worst, giving the score and a brief description. (A full report will of course follow). Interestingly, the two Tardieu Laurent wines can be found at the bottom and the top of the scale, with the latter being the ringer.

  • 78 Tardieu Laurent Hermitage 2000. An aberration of a wine. Light fruit with sweet vanilla and coconut nose. Tastes like a cheap Spanish wine. Bizarrely overoaked.

  • 82 Jaboulet Pied de la Côte Hermitage 2000. Thin and light. Charmless.

  • 85 Chapoutier La Sizeranne Hermitage 2000. Not a lot of typicity here. Tastes like a Côtes du Rhône.

  • 87 Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage 2000. Pleasant, with some savoury, meaty fruit, but too simple for Hermitage. Another poor showing for La Chapelle

  • 87 Sorrel Le Gréal Hermitage 2000. Quite classy oaking but the fruit is a tiny bit stewed and it doesn’t show enough typicity

  • 87 Domaine des Remizières Hermitage 2000. Very rich, toasty, chocolatey fruit with a roast coffee edge. It’s massively overoaked. It’s not a terrible wine, but it completely lacks any sense of place, which is a tragedy from such a good terroir.

  • 88 It’s the JL Chave Hermitage 2000. Very closed at the moment, but attractive and quite classy. Tannic, with good acidity. Could evolve into something impressive, but if you offered this to me at £30 a bottle, I’d probably pass. So at £100 a pop, don’t even think about it. Now I know it's identity I can see some potential, but still a disappointment.

  • 90 Domaine du Colombier Hermitage 2000.  Lovely meaty, expressive nose with lots of typicity. The palate has a hint of a vegetal streak and high acidity. Not top notch but satisfying.

  • 93 The ringer, Tardieu Laurent Cornas Vieilles Vignes 2000. Quite beguiling with rich, meaty, ripe Syrah fruit. The oak plays a supporting role and doesn’t dominate. Shouts Northern Rhône to me, although I didn’t spot this as the ringer. A very impressive effort from 90 year old vines.

I wouldn’t really recommend any of these Hermitages, especially considering their prices. And it’s a shame that even in a not-so-good vintage, producers can’t make more interesting wines: after all, the name ‘Hermitage’ will be devalued if producers are selling wines like these, still at high prices. Either they should drop their prices dramatically in weaker vintages, or declassify. Otherwise they risk damaging the reputation of the appellation. I’m just telling it like it is.

Saturday 18th January
Interesting interview with Patrick Sandeman, of London Mechants Lea & Sandeman, in this week's Harpers. A couple of choice quotes concerning his thoughts about a couple of French regions. 'It's difficult to get passionate about the Rhône', he explains. Why? 'Because there is so much bad wine made there'. I guess this is true, but there's no shortage of top producers doing good work, amid the dross. And show me a region where lots of bad wine isn't made. Perhaps he just can't get hold on any of the decent stuff to sell—certainly the leading Northern Rhône producers make tiny quantities and will sell most of their production directly or en primeur. Patrick's not to keen on the Loire, either. 'Well, the wines are made of Sauvignon for a start. And, OK, you can find some super wines made from Sauvignon, but you can't get passionate about them.' I wouldn't disagree, here. 'Otherwise there's Chenin, which is sweet in its best format and therefore difficult to sell, and the red wines are just too hit and miss. I find that the wines are rather like the region itself: there's something rather cold and uncharming about them.' It's a good read.   

Wednesday 15th January
I've finally realised something. It's hardly rocket science, but it might change some of my drinking habits. If I only drink half the amount of wine that I currently do, I can drink wine that's twice as expensive. Yesterday evening I opened a bottle of Mas Foulaquier's 'L'Orphée' 2001, from Pic St Loup. It's not vastly expensive, at £8.95 from Bentalls of Kingston, but this would probably be more than my average spend for a regular Tuesday night. If I can spread it out over a few nights, then I can raise my per bottle spend. Simple, really. In theory, at least. Regular readers will know that I'm an advocate of Pic St Loup, a commune in the Coteaux du Languedoc, and possibly soon to be an appellation in its own right. It deserves to be, because the wines exhibit a real sense of place and have come a long way in the last five years. Foulaquier is a relative newcomer, but this 'L'Orphée' (which translates as 'Orpheus', the unfortunate character from Greek mythology) hits the spot. Dark coloured, it has a really well defined nose slightly meaty, leathery fruit with some spicy undertones. The palate is savoury with a subtle herby edge, and lovely structure. Lots of typicity here. I know it's probably some bizarre mental association, but the wine links me with the place (I've visited three times, now) in an unusual way. It tastes good, too.  

Thursday 9th January
The big news here over the last couple of days has been weather-related. Readers from cooler climes will be perplexed at just how much fuss we Brits make over 2 inches of snow: this arrived on Wednesday, and it's the heaviest snowfall for 12 years apparently. Very exciting (photo on the right shows one of the boys on Twickenham green). Of course, the visual transformation snow brings has its own magic, but for me the most remarkable thing about a fresh snowfall is the change in the quality of sound. Suddenly everything becomes quiet. It's lovely. Today was 'The Bunch' press tasting, organized by a coalition of independent merchants (Adnams, Berry Bros, Corney & Barrow, Armit, Lay & Wheeler and Yapp), and it was probably the best-attended tasting I've yet been to. I spent more time chatting to people than tasting wine. Just about everyone was there. Each merchant was showing just six wines, though, which isn't really enough to get any real idea about the quality and breadth of their ranges. It's hard to single out a favourite wine, but two that stood out were the 1999 Savennières from Nicolas Joly's Coulée de Serrant and the Ridge Geyserville 2000. The Joly wine is idiosyncratic and very complex: dry, but with some apricotty botrytis flavours creeping in. It's brilliant, but a shame that it's £40 a pop. The Geyserville is half the price, and quite different. It's dominated by concentrated, sweet ripe fruit: very intense and with plenty of complexity, this is quite exotic.   

Wednesday 8th January
Regular visitors will be aware that I don't drink an awful lot of Bordeaux (or Claret, as we Brits like to call it). It's not a deliberate omission, though. Bordeaux makes some of the worlds most spectacular, iconic wines: I really should drink more of them. But as a region, I don't feel any strong affection for it. The vineyards aren't particularly beautiful, and then there are all those big, ostentatious Château, with the oversized lifestyles they support. You don't find many passionate owner-vignerons; instead the estates are more likely to be owned by investment banks and insurance companies. And following Bordeaux is a bit like being a Manchester United fan -- rather unoriginal. This said, in recent weeks I've opened three rather different Clarets. Most spectacular, and least expensive, was the 1989 Vieille Cure from Fronsac, which had evolved a truly classic, beguiling bouquet. The challenge with Bordeaux is to find the sometimes rather narrow drinking window when the wine is peaking: this time I got it right, but it's a gamble. Drink a wine too young and it will be closed and unyielding (i.e. it won't smell of much); leave it too long and it will smell of old wine (not very interesting, but some people tend to like it). The second wine I got wrong: the 1995 Rollan de By (an ambitious Medoc Cru Bourgeois) was dense but closed, but there really is a lot of substance here. The third wine, the 1997 Talbot (St Julien), was drinking very well, showing lovely balance and an open nose. Many of the 1997s are drinking very well now, and offer a lot more pleasure than some more highly rated vintages ever will, as long as they aren't kept too long. I suspect that a lot of these 1997s will end up being kept too long...

Sunday 5th January
It's been Northern Rhône for the last couple of nights. Yesterday we took the boys (aged 5 and 6) to their first football game together: Brentford (our local side, in Division 2) versus Derby County in the third round of the cup. A close match which Brentford just nicked 1-0. In the evening I popped open a 2000 Côte Rôtie from Domaine Barge. Savoury and very perfumed, this is quite light but shows lots of typicity: meaty, spicy and slightly animal, with good acidity. Extremely satisfying. Today my team (Manchester City) were live on the BBC, playing Liverpool in their third round tie. A surprisingly lethargic, muted performance, and Liverpool ran out 1-0 winners. Tonight I've popped another bottle of the Vin de Pays Collines Rhodaniennes 2000 from Domaine Mouton. Almost as good in quality as the Barge, with a bit more raspberryish fruit and that lovely meaty, green olive character that's common in many of the wines of this region. Sadly, though, there's just a hint of mustiness about this -- I'm putting it down to low-level cork taint.  

Thursday 2nd January
I began the year, yesterday, with two resolutions: reflect more, and learn more. Time to add another. Over the course of the next 12 months I want to try to structure my wine buying a bit more, to add some sort of sensible breadth to my cellar. At the moment my purchasing follows a rather magpie-like pattern. I see something interesting, I buy it. Of course, I have to exercise a lot of self control: numerous times last year I had to grit my teeth and stop myself from purchasing. If I didn't, two things would happen. First, wine would consume an inordinately large part of the Goode family budget. Secondly, I'd accumulate far more wine than I could ever drink. My other failing is buying the odd bottle here and then the odd couple of bottles there, resulting in a cellar-full of orphans. This year I'm going to try to think more carefully about my purchases, buy more six packs or full cases, and make sure that I patronize those merchants who are really doing good work. They need our custom, because the wine world would be a poorer place without them. 

Wednesday 1st January
Baths are wonderful. I was in the bath this morning, thinking about what to write in the first blog entry of 2003. While showers have their place, and are probably a more effective means to personal hygiene, baths allow time for reflection. This brings me nicely to my first New Year’s resolution. In a survey of old people over the age of 90, they were asked a telling question: if they had the chance to live their lives again, what would they do differently? The most common answers were that they would take more time to reflect, they would take more risks, and they would leave more behind them that was of enduring value. Thus my first intention for the next 12 months is to take more time out to reflect. One of the defining features of our current age is busyness. We have cluttered, over-full lives, with little time to think or contemplate, and that is our loss. Just like a nice hot bath, good wine can be an aid to reflection.

It’s certainly been a busy year. In 2002 there were 298 substantial additions to wineanorak. Perhaps it wouldn’t be unreasonable to claim that this represents the largest body of original material added to any UK wine site over 2002 by a single author – bearing in mind that I don’t rely on ‘user-generated’ content in the way that many other content sites do. In addition to this, I’ve had six features in Harpers Wine and Spirit Weekly and one each in Decanter and Wine magazines. But it’s not the quantity that matters as much as the quality. I aim to improve both in 2003, and I hope that further opportunities will come my way. Most importantly, I’ve learned a great deal in the last 12 months, and I’m aware that I still have a very great deal left to learn. As others have kindly pointed out to me, I know I’m still just a beginner in this game. I hope that by meeting lots of people, asking lots of questions, visiting various producers in different wine regions and generally keeping my mind, ears and eyes open, that by this time next year I’ll be able to look back and see that I’ve progressed a great deal in my understanding of wine.

Previous entries 

Back to top