Monday, 26 September 2011

Occhipinti SP68 Rosso '09 & Il Frappatto '08

Les Caves de Pyrene, c. £14 & £18

At 3am on Sunday morning I was standing (I think) on a friend of mine's balcony drinking the last the last dregs of Occhipinti SP68 Rosso 2009 straight from the bottle. There were only plastic cups available and if you're going to look tackily drunk it's best to push it all the way.

Style is temporary, class is permanent.

Arianna Occhipinti has both in spades, but alas, I can only master one at a time. And seeing as I had evidently nailed the former pretty convincingly, the next night I moved on to the latter: Occhipinti Il Frappatto 2008 and Riedel.

SP68 is a blend of Cerasuolo di Vittoria grapes: Frappato and Nero 'Avola. 'Though fashionably it's just an IGT Sicilia. The '09's perfect for drinking now; what might have been spiky acid in youth has integrated into the wine. Cherry and blackberry are there, now joined by riper red fruit and seamless tannins. Uncomplicated and fruit-forward.

Il Frappato is a more serious beast, with vinification that confronts the grape's thin skins head-on. 70% of the wine sees a maceration sees a two month maceration, the other 30% stays on for 8.

The nose shows raisins, leather and rich red fruit, huge concentration. Good acid depth on the palate with again, a graceful, integrated structure, and a long, long finish on the fruit.

All bases are covered. Wines to introduce to your parents.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Puzelat Touraine Pinot Noir '10

£13.68, Les Caves de Pyrene

Many friends old and new, animate and inanimate featured in a recent holiday to Mallorca. With varying levels of success.

Amongst the most prominent disappointments were a host of Mallorcan wines that previously I had loved, but now seemed clumsily oaked and over-extracted. Bottles from Anima Negra, and Miquels Gelabert and Oliver were all found wanting, and refuge was found only in Estrella Damm, Herbes and Jaegermeister.

On return to blighty then some tonic was needed. Like a good friend a good wine should have levels; I want to be able to talk Hegel to it for hours and analyse bouquet, or go on a bender and drink it with a straw. Step forward Thierry Puzelat and some Pinot Loire...

Apples and red fruit on the nose. Stoniness too. The palate just so bright and alive. Cherries, sour rasberries and a long minerality. Sexy and silken. The deftly light tannins make me think a little carbonic maceration was involved somewhere down the line, but I don't know. Fucking great: a right gude-willy waught.

I'm not writing off auld acquaintance just yet. But I might just be taking a cup or two more Puzelat in the near future.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Spanish Airport Cheese and Serrano Sandwich

€5, Palma Airport

And so once again we found ourselves in just saddest position in space-time mankind has yet experienced: Palma Airport, on the way to Stansted.

And even yet this despair proves time and again powerless to destroy the ineffable wonder of the Spanish Airport Cheese Sandwich.

But I was drunk and in the mood for experimentation, and the conflagration of these factors led me to a twist on the theme: the Spanish Airport Cheese & Serrano Ham Sandwich. It's a Ronseal number containing nothing but cheese, ham and bread and none the worse for it. Don't fuck with the classics, nobody wants a Bowdlerised sandwich.

That slightly stale ciabatta-style bread is my madeline; Valencia Airport all those years ago, with the vagrants and their dogs and their ugly Catalan. The mastication required stretches this sandwich to full twenty minutes. €5 isn't cheap for a sandwich, but Sister's hotdog was over in five, so that's value right there.

The cheese is obviously what this sandwich is all about. Two thin slices of a tasty, salty, cheddar-type affair. We'll stop there- I'm not about to unweave this rainbow.

If only they'd left it. The ham is low-quality; stringy, hard and requiring the trimming of fat that makes the whole affair rather more of a trial than necessary. It also pushes us a little far over the salt-line which meant sister and I had to drink the best part of two litres of San Miguel with our meal. Though we did get free hats to congratulate us on this. Swings and roundabouts.

My quarrel with this sandwich is fairly petty. It's still very highy recommended: 18 points at least. Just a pity it always comes when it does.

Cherished, strengthened and fed, without the aid of joy.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Panevino Is de fundu 'e muru '09

c. €25

As a foodstuff bread is fairly consistently overrated.

I'll admit that there exists a pretty wide choice of breads, and that, of course, not all bread is created equal. You can get posh breads; with bits of stuff in it or on it, bread made using funny flour or yeast, crafted into odd shapes, or cooked in special ovens. And this diversity means that it is one of few foods that can happily play its part in all three of the days meals.

But it's never really the star of the show. Its role is one of deliverance. It is a pusher of peanut butter, an enabler of escargots.

Strange I always think then that there are entire shops dedicated to it, people whose whole profession is 'baker', and that it is frequently mentioned by restaurant reviewers.

Our man at Panevino started out life as a 'baker' before moving on to winemaking, and it's clearly left a bit of a chip on his shoulder. If I was being kind I would describe him as "rude". At the end of a rather Socratic 30-minuite questioning session I finally managed to extract the following information:

Hail hit the crop in 2009 and so, rather than using grapes from different plots to make a number of cuvees in different styles as he normally would, he instead put all the grapes for his red wines together and vinified them in very slightly different ways. Six wines were made, each named afer the place in the cellar where the barrel was. They all mean things like 'the one in the middle' or 'the one at the front'.

Recourse to an online translation service suggests Is de Fundu e Muru was at the base of a wall. The grapes are field blend, mostly Cannonau (aka Grenache), and load of others that he's never bothered zetting.

Thin-skinned grenache gives a light colour, violets and oranges on the nose on a light leather and spice base. In the mouth concentration hits. Sweet berries, more leather, sappy fruit, brighter cherries and very light, fine tannins. There's lots here, and it demands attention.

Better than all bread, and most wine.