Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wine Wednesday at Unwined - Central Italy

Tooting Market, London. Wednesday 28-February-2018

Like buses. Nothing for ages then two wine tastings come along all at once. After last Wednesday's tasting here we are again back at Unwined in Tooting. This time all Italian wines from central Italy:

Falesco Vitiano : Grechetto : 2016 : Umbria : ITA £13.50
Cantina Orsogna : Pecorino : 2016 : Abruzzo : ITA £16.00
Villa Cialdini : Lambrusco Grasparossa : 2016 : Emilia Romagna : ITA £16.50
Vincola Carassanse : Montepulciano/Sangiovese : 2016 : Marche : ITA £11.50
Isole e Olena : Sangiovese/Canaiolo/Syrah : 2014 : Chianti Classico : ITA £26.00
Antonio Camillo Morellino di Scansano : Sangiovese : 2016 : Maremma : ITA £16.00

For a change Laura decided to play a 2, 1, 1, 2 formation, the inverse of last week:
  • First an A-B comparison of two white grapes, Grechetto vs Pecorino
  • Then a curve ball with the Lambrusco
  • Next the first of three Sangiovese based reds
  • Finally an A-B comparison of two Tuscan reds
The Grechetto very pale yellow with apple on the nose. On the palette it was like unripe cooking apples. Way too tart for me but Mary liked it. Or "crisp" as Laura euphemistically called it in marketing speak. Depends on one's personal taste. Me, I don't like sharp wines; Mary's Sauvignon Blancs are safe from my depredations.

The Pecorino is one of Mary's favourites. Also pale yellow and I got something a bit tropical on the nose. Tastewise an improvement on the Grechetto moving from cookers to Granny Smiths, Mary got white peaches, with a fuller, creamier texture than the first.

Poor old Lambrusco has had a bit of a bad rep. in the past but this is a proper example of the quality end of the style. Purple in colour, frizzante and raspberry, almost bubblegum on the nose. Red fruits on the palate, cherry and strawberry, and some tannins. It went very well with the parmigiano reggiano that Laura supplied to taste with this.

Then on to the reds...

The Vincola Carassanse was a very intense red, you couldn't see your fingers the other side of the glass; there was a hint of brick at the edge. I didn't get much in the nose but it was a bit nippy and the reds were possibly a little too cold to show as well as they could.

Tooting Market may be an indoor market but there are no doors and it was below freezing outside; the space heaters kept off the worst of the chill but we all kept our coats on.

The last pair were not dissimilar to each other. The Isole e Olena was ruby colour, showing some tertiary aromas, a hint of cedar, and some tannins. The Morellino was a murky ruby with tertiary notes of leather and sottobosco, and more pronounced tannins. Both lovely and a show of hands was fairly equally divided. They definitely need to go with food. Some Tuscan wild boar salami would be lovely.

There was some discussion about the Super Tuscans: an unofficial category of Tuscan wines, not recognised within the Italian wine classification system. It reminded me of when Mary and I went to San Gimignano and found some Ornellaia at an unmissable price. We snapped up six bottles and then had to buy a extra wheely case to bring them home. Ever since then it has been known as "The Italian Case"

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Dutty Moonshine Big Band at the O2 Academy Islington

London. Saturday 24-February-2018

My nephew Chris play drums with The Dutty Moonshine Big Band. They had their best attended gig in London so far at O2 Academy Islington so we had to go!

Pre-show meal with sister, Jane, and family friend, Ros, was at The Elk in the Woods in the picturesque Camden Passage. Good food and a glass of wine.

Then to the venue early enough to see most of the support act: Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer who Wikipedia describes, accurately, as "a British parodist who performs "chap hop" - hip-hop delivered in a Received Pronunciation accent." One in a long line of great British eccentric musicians to put alongside The Rutles, The Barron Knights and Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Then the main act. High energy stuff indeed although hard to categorise, it takes in a mish-mash of influences "from New Orleans Jazz bands, Noir movies and dirty warehouse raves. Imagine the kind of music Jay Gatsby would play at his parties if he grew up on the bass scenes of London".

Dutty is the guy in the middle with the baseball cap. Dress code was interesting, a female rapper in a cocktail dress and a harpist wearing an elegant evening gown playing hip-hop makes for a twinge of cognitive dissonance.

In the picture below, Chris is on drums at the back just behind the guy wearing the trilby.

An end of show picture from the stage; Chris with the beard to the right of the trilby.

We really enjoyed the show. Well done to the band!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wine Wednesday at Unwined - Pinot Gris and Tempranillo

Tooting Market, London. Wednesday 21-February-2018

First time back for a while to this excellent little venue (Unwined in Tooting). A tasting of two grape varietals (Pinot Gris / Grigio and Tempranillo) presenting three of each, chosen to showcase the differences created by country, climate and cultivation.

Laura decided to play a 1, 2, 2, 1 formation:

  • First the Specogna to introduce the pinot gris / grigio. 
  • Then an A-B comparison of the Ovum and Ca di Alte, done blind for added fun. 
  • For the reds an A-B comparison of Urbina vs Gran Cerdo.
  • Followed by the Picaro for the grand finale.

An interesting and informative way to structure the tasting.

The Specogna was an interesting pale copper / pink gold colour courtesy of the grape's skin - unusually dark for a white grape. Melon, white peach and green apple on both the nose and the palate. This is classic, quality pinot grigio from Friuli, higher altitude and later harvest (cf the Ca di Alte)

The BK Ovum was light in colour with tropical fruits on the nose and unctuous on the palate. An Australian wine done in an Alsace style. Lovely. On the other hand the Ca di Alte was lighter, sharper and appley, very much the early harvested version from the plains of the Veneto produced for the mass market.

Specogna : Pinot Grigio Ramato : 2016 : Friuli Venezia Guila : ITA £21.00
BK 'Ovum' : Pinot Gris : 2016 : Adelaide Hills : AUS £27.00
Ca di Alte : Pinot Grigio : 2016 : Veneto : ITA £12.00

Next up the reds. I learned that it was because of phylloxera that the French vignerons went to Spain in search of grapes and there introduced the Spanish winemakers to the use of barrels for ageing thus changing the traditional style of Rioja to that we know today. Well, well!

The Urbina was a Crianza that had been given more ageing than legally required which gave it a hint of brick colour on the rim and much smoother tannins, strawberry on the palate. The Gran Cerdo was very similar but younger; ruby, slightly greener tannins and similar palate.

The Picaro was lovely. Ruby and purple in colour, some grip on the palate and tasted of morello cherry and (to my tongue) red velvet cake.

Bodegas Urbina Crianza : Tempranillo/Graciano/Mazuelo : 2008: Rioja : ESP £17.00
Gran Cerdo : Tempranillo : 2016 : Rioja : ESP £10.50
Dominio del Aguila 'Picaro' : Tempranillo/Garnacha/Bobal : 2016 : Ribera del Duero : ESP £29.00

Then we finished off with small plate of three cheeses which were delicious with the Picaro. Another excellent and instructive evening.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cleaning the Wandle February 2018

Poulter Park, Sutton, Surrey. Sunday 11-February-2018.

Looking at the weather forecast the dress code was thermal long johns and two pairs of thick walking socks.

Looking back over the calendar, Poulter park seems to be an annual event. The last time I attended a clean-up here was in March 2015 when we pulled around 200 tyres out. So this stretch should be in pretty good shape by now.

In fact the first hour I spent using the litter picker to clean out hundreds of wet-wipes that had snagged on some pilings. Still that was better than those who were working upstream and were picking out sanitary pads and condoms. All this courtesy of the Beddington sewage treatment plant upstream of where we were working. A good day to work with your lips tightly clamped.

It was good to see my old wheelbarrow that we donated when we down-sized in action. The lady in red said it was a smooth little runner.

After the lunch break my fingers were going numb. I went back in the water for half an hour but then decided that loss of sensation was nature's way to telling me to take an early bath so I did.

As always, the first thing I do back home is strip off and put all my clothing straight into the washing machine. Then a nice warm shower and a cup of tea. Good deed done for this month.