Here's a quick round-up of some of the very good wines we had over Christmas and New Year. In the spirit of the current financial climate, we weren't exactly necking the Cristal this year. Not that we ever do. Some good value wines lately though.
First up, some Portillo Malbec. Actually, we had this in early December. I remember making a really poor political/geek's joke in my head about this wine - given its name - thinking it might be harsh in its youth but somehow meld into something smooth and easygoing with age. Got this for £7 a bottle on offer at Majestic.
A few days later we went to the brilliant Stockeld Park Christmas Adventure. And then, back home late after a crisp and wintry cold day out, we braved a Morrisons £10 meal deal. For that, you get a main, side and dessert plus a bottle of wine. Yep, that's all a tenner for two people. You don't expect a Michelin starred experience. Then again I bet loads of Michelin starred chefs sometimes eat a McDonald's. Yes you can cook something proper for far less and spend the difference on a real wine to go with it. Blah blah. I agree. But that kind of misses the point here. Horses for courses. It did the job at that moment. That's the wine to the right - origin unknown but bottled in Madrid, I remember from the label. That's about all I remember of it.
Now for some pictures of the Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park. Why not; it was great. A magical fairy wonderland in a forest; ski trail; ice rink; Santa's grotto.
Back to the wine...
Le XV du President from Laithwaites, received as a present. A hefty 15% - some wine fans might predictably retread the well-trodden ground about high ABVs here - but there's a good amount of freshness here to balance it all out. It's good, and I can see why it's popular.
This next one was very, very good. Been so impressed with a number of Spanish reds around the £10 mark lately. I bought this at Harvey Nichols in Leeds and I think it was about £11. Lovely.
Speaking of Spanish reds, this next one - a 1994 Rioja - was a New Year's Eve treat. Again, only around a tenner for the bottle. Before you say that's a lot for a bottle of wine - go out on New Year's Eve and you'll pay that for two rubbish drinks after battling through a sweaty queue for half an hour. Well worth it for an old wine (old compared to the vast majority of wines we drink).
I think drinking an old wine isn't just about the aroma and taste. This liquid was made from grapes that grew when I was - ahem.. a bit younger. It's then relaxed in the bottle for almost 20 years while I've done stuff in my life, trivial and poignant, before it found its way into my hands and was opened and drunk by me and my wife in the hours leading up to 2013. Lovely stuff - mellow but still amazingly fresh. On the border of the past and the future. I'm really glad we had it.
I can sense I'm going on a bit now. Here's another good value Spanish wine. Got it for £8 from Majestic on offer. Again if you expect a big wine drowning in over-baked fruit here then you're way off the mark: this is fresh and tasty, with a balancing level of acidity that keeps your lips coming back to the glass as if drawn by a magnet.