Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Premier Cru

I was going to settle down to write this hours ago. But then I started reading other blogs, some SO bloody brilliant, I couldn't stop reading them. Like this post from Reluctant Launderer, in which she makes bread and drinks cocktails. Or this one from Claire at Crumbs (warning, it's sad but there is cake). And then there was this one from Esther - food for thought in more ways than one. You see? That's why I'm always struggling to finish my book club book. I'll get straight to the wines, before I get distracted again.

Current white in the fridge: Waitrose Crisp & Floral White, £4.99, Waitrose
This one was in the fridge at my in-laws on Sunday and honestly, I'd forgotten how brilliantly simple and delicious it is. I mean, that's slightly the point. It's not the most memorable wine but sometimes that's exactly what you want. Something really chilled, cheap and cheerful to sip on before you tuck into a huge roast and crack open a bottle of red. Which is what we did. Still, this blend of Chardonnay and the rather aggressive sounding Muller-Thurgau grapes from the Veneto region in northern Italy does exactly what it says on the tin label. 

Current red in the rack: SW6 Red Wine 2 (Barbera) 2013, £15, www.londoncru.co.uk
Another Italian wine, but a million miles from the one above. Actually, not quite a million miles given that it's made in London. But in terms of taste, this is a wine you won't forget in a hurry. Made from Barbera grapes grown in Piedmont, in northern Italy, the grapes were trucked over to London's first winery called London Cru (in SW6, hence the name) and made into a very lovely red by Australian-born winemaker Gavin Monery. Now, Barbera can be a bit on the weedy side but not here. Obviously, it loves London. This is fabulously perky with a great big dollop of red cherry fruit. If you want to try it, get in there quick because quantities are limited. FYI - these were sent to me by the team at London Cru. But I'll be buying more. Note the funny numbers are because EU labelling laws mean they can't put helpful stuff on the labels, like grapes and vintage. 

SW6 Red 2 (Barbera).
Along with a belated birthday card I thought v. appropriate.

Peace out, winos x

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Crumbs. She's back.

The last time we picked a winner on the blog, my mother wasn't available to do the honours. She was on her way to the cinema '2 c When I wake up'. Not only does she text like a teen, she has a brilliant way of slightly re-wording things (she was actually seeing Before I Go To Sleep). She asked me the other day if I'd ever had my eyebrows 'shredded' (translation: threaded). Anyway, I popped in this morning for a coffee and she did the honours, picking a winner for the brilliant new cookbook from Claire & Lucy MacDonald, Crumbs. She does make me LOL.

Current white in the fridge: Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2013, £6.79 on offer, Waitrose
Had a half glass of this with my mother today, she wanted to know what I thought as she's in charge of buying the wine for the village Harvest Supper. And it's perfect, actually. In that it's a properly autumnal wine: it tastes of baked apples and spice and has got a little bit more alcohol in it, giving it warmth and weight. Lovely Viognier from one of Chile's most dependable producers. Just what's needed, I'd say. 

Current red in the rack: Extra Special Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012, £7.98, Asda
Made by the De Bortoli family (the ones who make Noble One, a beautiful sweet Semillon that's reached national treasure status in Australia), this is what happens when Pinot Noir feels at home in Australia. There's black cherry fruit and spice, not too heavy but lovely with it. The Yarra Valley is tucked down south, not far from Melbourne. Perfect when the neighbours pop in. 

Peace out, winos x

Competition result! Well done Jane Willis! Email me at knackered mother @ gmail dot com with your details and a book will be on its way soonest.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Birthday Present

An old friend said this morning as we passed at the school gates: "Isn't it someone's special day tomorrow?" I must have looked blank. "It's your birthday, isn't it?" Yes! I said. It is! Except I'd completely forgotten. This never used to happen. In my Twenties, the build up involved wish lists (no necessities, luxury items only). My Thirties' birthday lists were marked by a mix of both luxury and practical, tending towards the practical by the time I was 38. And now I need a reminder. Ridiculous, really. Actually, I do have a present for one of you. My lovely friends Claire & Lucy, who blog over at Crumbs, have written a family cookbook. And it's brilliant. I've used so many recipes from their blog over the years and this book brings the best of them together, along with lots of new stuff. I've just made their eight-apple cake, mainly because they tell me it makes a great breakfast cake. And tomorrow, I'm definitely eating cake for breakfast. Anyway, they've sent me a copy of their new book to give away so if you fancy, just leave a comment on the blog or facebook page and we'll settle this in the normal* way next week.

Current white in the fridge: Cave de Beblenheim Pinot Gris 2013, £8.29 on offer, Waitrose
Waitrose have got a World of Wine Showcase on at the moment and the shelves are full of weird and wonderful wines. Pinot Gris is the same grape as Pinot Grigio, but it's known as Pinot Gris in France. The gorgeous Alsace region is Pinot Gris' spiritual home and makes wines with more fruit and oomph than most Italian Pinot Grigio wines. And I don't know whether it's because I'm surrounded by windfall apples at the moment, but this wine tastes like baked apples with a touch of honey. Utterly gorgeous, I'm going back for more before it all goes. 

Current red in the rack: Venturer Series Old Vines Garnacha 2013, £4.79, Aldi
Sent to me by the Aldi PR people, this is one of the wines in their new six-strong Venturer Series range, along with a lovely Vermentino and Nero d'Avola from Sicily among others. The idea is to seek out the more off-the-beaten track wines for this range and they're all under a fiver. This one's from Spain's Carinena region, is loaded with bramble fruit flavours and a dash of vanilla and its purpose in life is to make midweek suppers just that bit more enjoyable. (A slice of apple cake for pudding also worked wonders). 

Peace out, winos x

1. Competition closes on 23rd September 2014 at 11.59pm.
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident over the age of 18.
3. My mother will pick out a name at random and her decision is final (it's her hat).

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Reality TV

So, I was at The London Studios earlier this week for the start of the final series of The Alan Titchmarsh Show (I'm back on as the booze hound on his Friday show) when a man walked into the Make Up room. He looked really familiar but I just couldn't place him. 'You know who this is, don't you?' said Jo the make up artist, as she spray-gunned my face with foundation. Turns out, it was Barry Scott. As in 'BANG! And the dirt is gone!' Barry Scott. Except he's not Barry Scott at all. He's an actor called Neil. I know! I later played Give Us A Clue in the Green Room with Lionel Blair before squeezing past Roger Moore backstage. Honestly, you couldn't make it up.

Apologies for the video cutting out before he even says his line. Still funny, though.

Current white in the fridge: Albourne Estate Selection 2013, £12.95, www.albourneestate.co.uk
This was sent to me by the person who made it, Alison Nightingale. Her vineyard is just north of Brighton and her wines are really good. This particular blend is made up of three different grapes, including Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Bacchus and is so citrusy, it's like licking a fresh grapefruit. But there's so much more to it, including a kind of admirable steeliness. Think Judy Murray in a floral dress.  

Current red in the rack: El Patito Feo Graciano/Garnacha 2013, £7.99, Waitrose
Literally translated, this means 'the ugly duckling' because it's from Navarra, a region that lies right next door to Rioja and as the back label says, 'always the bridesmaid but never the bride'. If that's the case, this is one cool bridesmaid. Stylish without trying too hard, as it were. Made from a blend of Graciano and Garnacha grapes (both of which are found in lots of red wines from Rioja), it is brilliantly bramble-y, juicy and bright. Fab label, too. Think it's a small-ish parcel so it won't be around for long.   

Peace out, winos x

Eldest Boy (standing in for my mum) picks a winner for the case of Mirabeau Rose. The winner's name is below...

Well done, Tory Blake! Send me an email (knackered mother @ gmail dot com) and your wine will be with you asap. Thanks to everyone who joined in x