Tag Archives: Zinfandel

Camp Fire Wines

This is a long overdue post from the end of last summer.
We went on a two-nighter camping trip out to the redwood forest in Big Basin.

Considering we were in Santa Cruz County there were only two wineries worthy of the journey!

Bonny Doon and Ridge.

Bonny Doon’s Albariño is one of California’s best, lovely lime and tangerine with lots of acidity crispness.
At $18 too, quite a bargain. The current vintage is from a different vineyard, however without even tasting it I am sure it will be good. Perfect apéritf.

Bonny Doon Albariño

2013 Bonny Doon Albariño

Geyserville was the first Ridge wine I had, it was one from the mid-nighties, from then on I’ve been a fan, collecting different vintages, varietals and trying them randomly….2009 was indeed a superb wine. Soft cherry fruit, pepper, bramble, hint of clove spice, mint – we had these with wild boar and sage sausage and merguez, with harrissa mayonnaise. Being from California I’ll always have soft spot for zinfandel, this guy is a benchmark for the rest.


2009 Ridge Geyserville

2009 Ridge Geyserville


Me and Bonny Doon have got some history. From my first encounter when I set out on the near impossible task of sourcing a bottle of Cardinal Zin in the English country side for a zinfandel presentation at college (I even had the t-shirt!). To some ten years later when I finally got to meet Randal Grahm himself; where I had hard time keeping up with him as he went from tank to barrel trying his newest vintage that had just finished fermentation. To the encounter with Le Cigar Volant below…What in God’s holy name are you blathering about?

Well, I’ll tell you what I’m blathering about man…after having tried all these wines, served these wines and admired these wines….this 2009 Le Cigare Volant Réserve (en bonbonne, no doubt), is by far the finest Bonny Doon I’ve ever had. This wine is silky soft on the palate and gushing with pure blackberry fruit, there’s some mint, black licorice, wild mountain herbs and it just lasts and lasts on the finish. This is not a big wine and the alcohol is on the surprisingly low side at 13.4%. Regardless, this wine is fantastic, and for some god forsaken reason there’s still some left on their website.

I vividly remember sipping this wine well into the night just amazed at its

Well done.

2009 Le Cigare Volant

2009 Le Cigare Volant – best served with steak on the bloody side











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Zombie nation of wine lovers

I write this post amidst the lunacy and carnage bestowed on this great nation every year.  As our American cousins get set for the biggest shopping day of their year, I am crouched behind the scenes in UK’s own hub of blood sucking deal finders – the BBC Good Food Show Birmingham at the NEC – six days of consumer heaven and wine pourer’s hell.

They're heeeerrrrreeeee - Thriller Zombies coming for my wine

As the metal gates rolled up to begin today’s odyssey the background sun silhouetted the waiting crowd just enough to give an effect of zombies doing their Thriller shuffle to our stand.  I was able to steal away a few precious minutes from the sea of decrepit raised hands clasping plastic tasting cups, backed by anonymous cries “I’ll have the red one.” “Do you have anything sweet?”, to bring you this report…I am a blogger on the front-line.

the bunker

All joking aside, as an aspiring blogger and journalist talking directly to the people who I hope one day read this very blog it would be an injustice to not interact with the public.  It makes me wonder if high profile wine people treat their platform as an opportunity to preach rather than interact.  It’s amazing how very quickly wine trade people, when put in front of the drinker they are targeting  get  uppity, slightly confused and almost nervous.

What am I trying to say? Be nice, when and if you are in the opportunity to deal directly with public have some patience…lets call it grapetience (actually no, lets not do that). Wine already has the snob label stuck to it…all it needs now is the conscientious few to break away from that barrier and be wine Samaritans of sorts. That’s all, nothing complicated.

With that here are two wines that I’ve tried recently…they’re good.

Wines that I’ve tried

Ch Aydie, Madiran, 2006 – 100% Tannat – £12.99 Waitrose

New World, dark berry nose and almost cooked (not jammy) cranberry fruit; surprisingly fresh and tangy palate with grippy tannins – berries all the way through the palate.  A drink now wine from SW France…  I like it but would prefer less fruit and more earthy, grippy Old World style from this part of France.

Ravenswood – Teldeschi – Dry Creek Valley 2006, Zinfandel £24.99 (Majestic, Harrods, Wholefoods, The Wine Society, Direct Wines) – part of the sample package from Constellation via Westbury
Octane nose, backed by blueberry and some interesting spice.  Typical bramble and a savouriness on the that makes this wine that bit more different.  It’s on the palate where this wine excels, there’s a smooth kid leather finish that lasts.  This wine has another ten years on it (and at that price it should).

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Local is the way to go.

I am a closet glutton, please help.

I’ve been walking by Numidie for awhile now and only recently stepped in when I saw rouille (and fish soup) on the window menu.  Well actually it was fish soup with rouille but I didnt really notice the soup bit because  I have a sort of crack-like addiction to rouille.  It could have said rouille and 3 day old pizza or rouille and toast., I wouldn’t have cared.

This is the place!

Numidie is on Westow Hill in Crystal Palace and serves French/N.African cuisine.  The place looks nice it has three little art-deco chandeliers, little wooden tables and chairs, and a cool retro-French decor. And best yet there’s a little basement bar too!  Well the basement bar is only part of the best bit…the actual best bit is that three courses is only £14 and nothing on the wine list was more than £40?!

So, they have rouille, the menu and wine list are both excellent value and there’s a cool bar in the basement…PLEASE GOD make the food good!  Well to make a long story short — the food wasn’t good.

le menu

The food was SUPERB! In fact I have since found out that this little bistro is quite famous and has a very dedicated and loyal following.

The fish soup and rouille was very nice, I asked for extra rouille to put on the home-made foccacia-like bread.  For mains I had a roast chicken (always a test for restaurants) with Algerian dumplings and a chickpea sauce. It too was very good.
M, my dining partner enjoyed salade Numidie (say it with a French accent) as a starter – salad leaves mixed with an array of brightly coloured roasted red peppers, houmous and probably the best falafel I’ve ever tried.  For her main M had Couscous Royale with merguez, roast chicken and lamb (I secretly wanted her main) – the portion was huge and like everything else we had, excellent.

I opted out of dessert which was a tarte au chocolate but once taking a nibble of M’s decided it was too good to share, and promptly ordered another (this is the glutton bit, btw)

louis with the rouille

All in all a great experience and the bill came to under £50.  I have vowed not to frequent any more famous chef restaurants, offering little more than a bloated cheque after the meal.  To find such a welcoming, great value and excellent little place only 5 minutes from where I live, was a great surprise and pleasure. I will be most definitely going back.

Oh and nearly forgot, they gave us each a glass of pear digestif after our meals – loved it!

Numidie Bistro – 48 Westow Hill – Crystal Palace – SE19 1PX – tel: 020 8766 6166

Wine I recently tried

If you read imbibe magazine you will see I have a story about Zinfandel in the current issue.  Zin is one of my favourite grapes, that is, if it is made correctly.  Too many times it can be over-ripe, too tannic, sweet – in fact, it can be everything I hate about wine.  But when it is good, I can’t get enough of the stuff.
Sadly, like most things wine and American all the good things come with a price.  Plus with the added bonus in the UK very few California wines – and I’m talking around ten – are good and readily available.

That’s where Ravenswood steps in, Joel Peterson – founder and winemaker – is very well-known for his motto of “no wimpy wines” and this stands true to all that he makes.  Admittedly I am not a fan of all the wines in Ravenswood’s range, but one of my favourite is the Vintners Blend 2006 … for an entry-level, zin-introduction (I refuse to use zin puns) this wine is perfect. So,  I was happy to try it out (again) for the people at Constellation.

very good zin

On the nose there’s loads of dark berry fruit, ripe black-cherries, while on the palate it’s a mouthful of dark black berries, bramble, licorice and a nice cranberry tartness on the finish.  It’s costs £7.99 (Waitrose, Tesco & Spar) and for an entry-level Zin (in fact for a wine in general) it is good value.

By the way I had it with some homemade steak nachos, fresh salsa and guacamole, it was perfect.

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