This wine put me in a good mood before I’d even opened it: any booze that makes me think of Arrested Development is onto a winner.
And it’s just as good as Arrested Development. Oh boy, yes.Continue reading “Domaine Maby Lirac Blanc 2018 Review”
Old Parn’s Wine & Spirits Blog
Blather about booze: wine, spirits, cocktails. Stories & metaphors, not verdicts & percentages.
Quickly, today, while the sun shines, let me talk to you about a fabulous white Rhône to brighten and enliven your lockdown with its circus antics: Lirac Blanc La Fermade from Domaine Maby.
This wine put me in a good mood before I’d even opened it: any booze that makes me think of Arrested Development is onto a winner.
And it’s just as good as Arrested Development. Oh boy, yes.Continue reading “Domaine Maby Lirac Blanc 2018 Review”
There are several disadvantages to drinking red wine. You’re familiar, no doubt, with many; I shalln’t try your patience and morale by enumerating them. I like to think that we go into this (this, y’know, drinking) with our collective eyes open as to its downsides. But it turns out there are risks, dear reader, of which even I was unaware.
Let me take you back to a Friday night some time ago. A Friday night that came at the end of a day spent working my mouse-finger to the bone, selling cheap shit to idiots on the internet.Continue reading “Young & Crazy”
With Brexit slouching towards Britain to be born, a couple of jokers vying for the helm of the sinking ship that is the United Kingdom, and a low-functioning sociopath clogging up the White House’s (metaphorical?) plumbing with his (metaphorical?) shit, where the hell should you invest? A question to which, you may well believe, Old Parn devotes much thought and sage analysis. Please be aware, while reading the post that follows, that I am neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice, but I’m going to anyway.
These handsome jars are, I predict, one of the best investments I’ll make this year. Alongside, y’know, the emotional investment of getting married, and suchlike… But, yeah, I certainly expect the next few years’ impact on the liquid contents of these jars to be rather more benevolent than their impact on my FTSE All Share tracker fund holdings.Continue reading “The Sloe & Steady Portfolio”
This is an extremely nice, supple, elegant pinot noir from Alsace. I gulped it down alongside some Burgundian escalopes a la Keith Floyd.
Ah, Floyd, lovely Floyd.Continue reading “Review: Moselle Les Hautes-Bassières Pinot Noir, Château de Vaux 2016”
A significant portion of which is devoted to a spirited ‘crie de coeur’ on the subject of ready meal packaging, and most of the rest of which contemplates distasteful sexual activities practised upon Russian politicians. I’m up-front about this stuff, y’know.
‘Remove cardboard sleeve and peel away plastic film.’
It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But, honestly, they may as well have said, ‘Remove cardboard sleeve and give Vladimir Putin a blowjob’, for all the chance I have of accomplishing their instruction with any modicum of ease or pleasure.
I’ve written before about my intense dislike of cellophane that fails grotesquely in its sole goddamn interaction with the customer. But that doesn’t mean I can’t write again. I mean, Christ. Collectively, think of the time humanity wastes on attempting to peel off a plastic seal and instead peeling off a ludicrous thread of plastic from around its rim, repeating this process at each of the carton’s four corners, before (defeated, humiliated) grabbing a knife and slashing psychopathically at the bastard cellophane until our collective shirts are spattered with ragu sauce that looks for all the world like blood.
Time that could be put to better use in — oh, I don’t know — curing cancer or eradicating poverty or watching the latest episode of Sherlock.
Oh, that Sherlock. He wears a nice dressing gown, doesn’t he? (Declare an interest? Me? Piss off.)
But don’t just think of the time. Think of the fucking psychological despoliation wreaked by this supposedly peelable cellophane. Whole generations demoralised by their inability efficiently and rapidly to prepare a godforsaken ready meal (the very words themselves a hollow mockery — for this now ungrippably-cellophanated carton in front of me couldn’t be any less ready); to follow even the unglamorous preparatory instruction — mere prelude to the complex matrix of oven types and temperatures, and frozen vs chilled states. When we see growth rates in the developed world stalling and purchases of pre-prepared food rising, do we not pause to consider the relationship between the two?
JUST AS SODDING WELL, THEN, that I have a half-bottle of Hugel Pinot Gris, 2010 (The Wine Society, £6.95) to calm my cellophane-rage. A sluicing of very pleasant-tasting alcohol to numb my brain to the injustices and indignities of the food packaging regime — analogous, one might venture, to an autocrat’s cynical pampering of an emerging middle class with the finite proceeds of a natural gas boom whose days are numbered.
SEE WHAT I DID, THERE? YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED IT, BECAUSE IT WAS QUITE SUBTLE. RE-READ THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH IF YOU’RE NOT SURE.
It’s nice, Hugel Pinot Gris. Of the Wine Society’s praiseworthy array of half bottles (several of which I’ve written about already), it’s one of my favourites. I like the way it lies, deliciously inert (like a coma coated in syrup), in your mouth. The way it rings out with fruit, but leaves your tongue free of that ganky aftertaste of the sugary muck that often gets called ‘fruity’.
(Speaking of which — fuck. When you’re pretty much living off wine from TWS and Waitrose, you sometimes forget just how goddamn withering a bad white wine can be. I was in a pub, the other week, and forgot myself to the degree that I actually ordered a glass of white wine — somehow extrapolating from the fact that most wine I drink is quite nice a kind of rule that all wine I choose to drink will therefore be nice. A rule whose inherent fallacy was pitilessly exposed by said pub and its vinous offering.)
Hmm. Somewhere between talking about presidential fellatio and rotten pub wine, I was doing a kind of wine review, there, wasn’t I? Christ alive. Sorry about that. We’ve dispensed, haven’t we, you and I?, with any kind of flimsy, cellophane-esque pretence that you’re here for in-depth or nuanced alcoholic commentary. The commentary of an alcoholic, maybe. But not alcoholic commentary. So let’s leave it at this. Hugel Pinot Gris. Easy to open (if you have a corkscrew). Doesn’t cause you to flail around with a kitchen knife. And definitely tastes better than my ready meal.
Not to mention Putin.
Ghemme, Ioppa, 2004. A wine that smells like all those memories you goddamn wish you had. But you don’t. You loser.
Smell. Smell is the most evocative sense, innit? The one that can yank you (via a chance waft of teenage perfume) back to that time when you first kissed that girl. You know. That one. Or to that time when you walked out in the field and the air was heavy with summer and you knew that in two weeks’ time you’d be going into the big school. Or to that time when a dog pissed on your bag.
So let’s talk about the smell of a wine called Ioppa. I like the fact that it’s called Ioppa, because it sounds like the kind of word a maladroit Italian waiter might exclaim as a plate of food slips from his helpless hand and crashes onto the floor.
And I like the fact that it smells a-fucking-mazing.
It smells of sweet, sweet, squashy red fruits, heaped with dark (satanically dark) muscovado sugar. It smells like all those memories you goddamn wish you had. But you don’t. You loser.
Then you drink it. And it slides into your mouth like something that shouldn’t be there but really should. Sinuous and lithe. Before exlopding into soil and life and violence.
It’s powerful, and it is very damn nice. You should probably try it.
It’d give you something to remember.
Manley Estate’s Pinotage is all fruit and soft curves and perpetual smiling — and I can’t help wishing it’d make me work a bit harder
Manley, it’s not you; it’s me. You’re great. Really, I mean it. It’s just — well — you’re just too nice.
I like wines that make me work a bit. Not a lot, you understand (I’m way too lazy for that) — but a tad. And there’s something about Manley Estate’s Pinotage that is a bit too easy. It puts itself on a plate for me. Not, you understand, literally (although that would be fine: I’m happy to take my wine from whatever receptacle presents itself), but, y’know, metaphorically.
That’s not to say Manley is bad. It’s really not at all. It’s all fruit and soft curves and perpetual smiling. I’d just like to see what it looks like with a frown on its face, too.
Christ, enough with the metaphors, Parn.
So, yeah. Fine. Easy to drink. Quite full. Smiley. Could do with more brusqueness. A tad expensive. But fine. Nice.
Oh Manley. When this is all over, I do hope we can still be friends.
This bottle was received as a free sample from Naked Wines
… is a tantalising, gob-watering Csárdás of a wine that lobs a grenade of tropicality — mandarins, lychees, peaches, the kinds of fruits that ooze when you squidge them — that follows up with an aftershock of dry, icy citrus
Here’s a happy, carefree, unselfconscious dance of a wine. A Csárdás. A whooping whirligig of fruit and flavour and life. Like the best dances, it’s got energy, momentum. Which might be just an absurdly pretentious way of saying you can get through a bottle of this stuff pretty damn quickly; pretty damn happily.
Into your cavernous gob, Hilltop Estates Cserszegi F?szeres lobs a grenade of tropicality — mandarins, lychees, peaches, the kinds of fruits that ooze when you squidge them — that follows up with an aftershock of dry, icy citrus. In response, your poor mouth can only conjure up bucketloads of saliva like a really shit magician.
ROLL UP! ROLL UP! SEE THE AMAZING DRIBBLE-CONJURURING MOUTH! BE AMAZED, OR YOUR MONEY BACK IN FULL!
This — listen, now, because this really is amazing — this tantalising, gob-watering Csárdás of a wine is £5.75. It’s only 11% ABV. It’s outstanding for the price, and I’ll be ordering more. Serve it up to dinner-party guests as an aperitif and make them guess where it’s from. Indulge yourself in innumerable hungry/Hungary puns. Go on! Tease ’em! IT WILL BE FUN.
Almost as much fun as the dance.
Wines like this are the reason I’m a member of the Wine Society. Exciting, unexpected, and the kind of thing most supermarkets would dismiss with a peremptory flick of the hand.
Well — joke’s on them. £5.75, you daft plonkers. £5.75!
Time to get dancing.
… will flirt fruitily with your nose, before getting gruff with your gob
Fill your snout with a decent sniff of Saladini Pilastri Falerio and you’ll think that you’re in for a flighty, flirty, fruity kind of wine. Mischievous, light-footed, scarpersome. There’s that beguiling waft of pear drops, for one thing, that always puts me in mind of smalltime juvenile delinquency.
But swish a bit of the stuff round your mouth and you might be surprised at the amount of fullness and depth. There’s a nice hint of bitterness; a gruff quality that contradicts (or enhances, I guess, if gruffness is your thing) the flirtatious, fruity, sweet-shoppy goings on.
It’s not a blindingly extraordinary wine, but neither is it a typical one. And for the rather goddamn lovely price of £6.25 — I’d contend — this is the kind of bottle you could well be cracking open in the middle of the week and still tasting something new, something interesting.
In which Old Parn’s first guest blogger, Elly Tams, has her knickers charmed off by Prosecco
This is a grand moment: the first guest blogpost on Old Parn. Um, on the blog, I mean. Not actually on me.
Your blogger today is Elly Tams. Elly is a writer; her debut novella Scribbling On Foucault’s Walls wonders what would have happened if Michel Foucault the homosexual French philosopher had in fact had a daughter. I encountered Elly (also known as Quiet Riot Girl) on Twitter, and I liked her tweets straight away. I liked the way she spoke about her area of interest (gender/sexuality etc) with conviction, directness and simplicity. The way she didn’t hide behind abstract nouns and academic terminology.
Turns out Elly likes wine. So I asked her if she’d write a guest post. And she did. Huzzah…
I blame the Millenium. Before the 31st of December 1999, champagne was reserved for special occasions. I mean REALLY special. Weddings, coronations, Formula One racing, Number One Singles (remember them?), losing your virginity, winning the premium bonds. But ever since that hyped-up, arbitrary, potentially computer-destroying, slightly tacky otherwise ordinary New Year’s Eve 12 years ago, the world has been awash with fizzy wine. I realised the definition of ‘celebration’ was getting a bit loose when I bought a bottle of cava to celebrate the release of my favourite band’s latest album. It’s a slippery slope.
This ubiquity of fizz has meant I have become rather familiar with the genre. Not with the crème de la crème, you understand. I still don’t know the difference between a Dom Perignon and a Crystal. The cheap stuff is my area. My favourite part of a good friend’s wedding rigmarole was a few weeks before the big day, when we did a fizzy wine tasting at her place. There is a fine line between a good cheap bottle of fizz and an awful one (hint: the awful ones seem to be trying to strip off the back of your throat and the hangovers come with headaches from hell).
If you don’t have the time or the liver capacity to do the research, my advice for finding a reliable, reasonably priced sparkling wine is simple. The answer is Prosecco.
To avoid the embarrassment of me not knowing anything about grape varieties or regions or acidity or any of the technical stuff that wine buffs dazzle us with, I will distract you with a metaphor. If all the fizzy wines were in a line up and you were choosing which one to go on a date with, Prosecco might be the quieter one. It would be handsome and well-dressed in an understated way. It would not be trying too hard to impress, because it wouldn’t need to. It would be self-assured and confident in its qualities. It would be a mistake to pass over it for the more flashy contenders.
Prosecco charmed my knickers off for the first time in an Italian bar and restaurant in Sheffield a few years ago. I will admit it. The first thing that attracted me to it was the price. Cheaper than champagne but tasting just as good – in many cases better – it has been a firm favourite ever since. The best deals are at supermarkets. Recently I found some San Leo prosecco at Waitrose for £6.95, reduced from £10.44. Four bottles later I can confirm it is a classic. I prefer brut, and this one is indeed very dry but the lovely thing about prosecco is after the first couple of bottles – I mean glasses – even the driest versions become smooth and creamy to drink.
Part of me wishes I’d bought the whole lot of reduced San Leo when it was on offer. But another, more sensible, and probably more romantic part doesn’t. Because if any type of wine can keep the experience of quaffing fizz special, it’s prosecco.
Thanks, Elly. I bought a mini-bottle of the San Leo myself. Purely for, um, research, you understand. And she’s right: it’s damn pleasant, accessible, celebratory stuff.
If you yourself have a wine that you’d like to talk about, do get in touch, won’t you?
Meanwhile, here’s a link to Elly’s blog, Quiet Riot Girl, and her Twitter feed.
… is basically just like my parents’ blackcurrant jelly
My clever old parents make blackcurrant jelly. Darker, less translucent than those confected supermarket ones, it smells like the essence of the fruit. Intense and sharp, it stains your toast black-red.
Stephen Miller’s Shiraz smells almost exactly like my parents’ blackcurrant jelly. It tastes vaguely similar, too. Once your tastebuds have vaulted over the towering wall of blackcurrant, there’s not too much else to talk about: it’s a relatively straightforward kind of wine. It has a whack of alcohol — and there’s a smear of liquorice in there too — and the whole shaboddle hangs together pretty well. But, really, it’s all about the blackcurrants. Which is all very nice — but Stephen Miller’s Shiraz makes for an altogether less suitable (and socially acceptable) breakfast accompaniment than does my parents’ jelly.
So, altogether, I’d say it’s fun enough, y’know. The kind of wine that even people who don’t like wine much would probably drink relatively happily. But — for me — it’s a smidgin too intense in its fruitiness. In a manner that I hope won’t cause too many parallels to be drawn between myself and George Osborne, I’d prefer a bit more austerity.
… is a wine for rooftop terraces and golden sunshine
This is like walking outside into air just cleared by a spring thunderstorm (pavements still wet) after a day in a stodgy, stuffy office. It is delicious. Sharp (grapefruit sharp; stiletto sharp), with a flavour that rings out like a clean-struck bell.
A wine for rooftop terraces; a wine for golden sunshine.
… has a picture of a horse on it
Slightly too much bosh when you first slug Arabella into your gob — but other than that, she’s pretty nice. Especially if you don’t chill the pants off her, but instead do her the courtesy of drinking her only slightly chilled. Then you get all the luscious tinned fruit she’s been saving up for you like a loving 70s housewife, fearful of imminent nuclear apocalypse.
Mmm. Tinned fruit.
Pear drops crop up in there, too (though quite as dramatically as we’ve seen elsewhere). Rather nice, actually.
And it’s got a picture of a horse on it.
Um. That’s all I’ve got to say. Can I go and play in the torrential rain now, please?
… is elegant and lithe and beautiful and charming as you like — but with that little glimmer of filth in its eye.
Okay. Let’s sprint through this one, shall we?
Pinot fucking noir. To get one thing out of the way: I love pinot noir. Christ alive, I love it. And this pinot noir is bloody delicious.
That’s probably all you need to know, isn’t it?
In case you’re still reading — rather than bombing down the A1 towards Stevenage in a hijacked articulated lorry in order to ramraid The Wine Society’s warehouse — I’ll give you a bit more. (And, um, they’ve sold out in any case. So save yourself the criminal record.)
It’s got that brilliant pinot noir tautness — a lithe-bodied, gymnastic suppleness — that I find goddamn bewitching. Then add that little spatter of muckiness. Oh, that sweet little spatter. Because this wine is as elegant and lithe and beautiful and charming as you like — but there’s that hint of filth in its eye. Goddamn.
So, yes, there’s the mellow red fruit, the ripeness. And there’s the earth, the muck, the sex.
… is delicious, extraordinary and quite goddamn sexy. Even if it *does* taste of raisins. Because wrinkles can be sexy, too.
Okay. It’s Valentine’s Day. And in celebration thereof, what better alcoholic beverage than one that tastes MIND-BLOWINGLY STRONGLY of raisins? — thereby reminding you that whilst you may be taut-skinned young grapes right now, one day, you’ll both be shrunken and wrinkly.
BUT YOU’LL STILL TASTE LOVELY.
(Realism beats Romance every time, eh? Just ask TS Eliot if you’re unsure.)
Anyway, I maintain that this is a Romantic wine. It’s big and swingeing and unashamed. It scatters your bed with petals and serenades you with sentiment-sodden ballads. And tenderly crams handful after handful of raisins into your gob.
It is sweet. Really, really, really sweet. Even as you’re pouring it, you’re thinking of molasses and treacle and whatever other viscous liquids you might find appealing. And it’s almost impossibly rich and dark when you get it into your mouth.
It’s hard to believe, in fact, that something can be as sweet as this and still seem, y’know, even vaguely grown-up. Especially when drinking it puts you in mind of cramming your stubby fingers into those little boxes of Sunmaid to extricate the pieces of fruit that’d wedged themselves right into the bottom corners. But it is grown up. Possibly because it’s so outrageously goddamn decadent-tasting. And also because it’s not sickly.
Or, at least — and here, once again, the raisin likeness holds — it’s not sickly unless one consumes it to excess.
In summary: delicious, extraordinary and quite goddamn sexy.
Oh. And may I leave you with a ludicrously specific serving suggestion? Put a glass of this alongside a bowl of rosewater and cardamom ice-cream. Buy the dried rose petals from a nice man in the Iranian deli on High Street Kensington. He may even give you a free biscuit. Then simultaneously boast and congratulate yourself for doing all of the above by photographing it and posting it on your silly little blog.
You pathetic specimen.
… may not be a bona fide speed potion mixed by a malicious child — but is certainly nice enough to warrant a shambling kind of jog as you go to fetch your wallet
What was the first cocktail you ever made?
Mine was a speed potion.
In order that I may elaborate further, I’d like to introduce you to my sister — Young Parn, Koozle or Parnell’s Sister, as she is variously known — who, by virtue of being two years my junior, qualified for that most precious form of sibling love: merciless, vile-spirited deceit and manipulation.
Spare a thought, o reader, for Parnell’s Sister.
Spare a thought for her, specifically, as she sits, her eager gob agape, listening to me telling her that I am training to be a wizard.
YES, ROWLING, DID YOU GET THAT? A WIZARD. ROLL THAT UP IN YOUR FORTHCOMING PLAGIARISM COURT SUMMONS AND SMOKE IT. PARN GOT THERE FIRST.
‘What kind of magic can you do?’ asks Koozle, her eyes a-sparkle with gullible excitement.
‘Oh, well, I’m not very good yet,’ I nonchalantly reply, with the inspired modesty of the sociopathic liar. ‘But they did teach me how to make a speed potion.’
‘A speed potion?’
‘A speed potion.’
Next thing, we’re in the kitchen. Of course. And — inspired in equal parts by George’s Marvellous Medicine and innate pre-pubescent sadism — I am making my sister a speed potion.
God knows (and I hope the old chap will one day find it in his heart to forgive me for) what I put into that horrific concoction. I’m fairly sure (sorry, Katie, sorry) there was Fairy Liquid. There was definitely a spoonful of marmite, ketchup, every variety of fruit squash available, a generous measure of milk and an old fruit pastille.
And — of course — in order for the potion to have its full effect, it had to be drunk all in one go. Which, to her further great credit, Young Parn managed with aplomb. I hardly even think she tasted it, honestly, so consumed was she with manic anticipation.
‘HOW DO I KNOW IF IT WORKED?‘ she screamed, jiggling impatiently from one stumpy little leg to the other.
‘Um … Well, you know how I’m faster at running than you, normally? Well — I’ll race you to the bottom of the garden. If it’s worked, you’ll beat me.’
Reader, it is a testament to the inordinate power of the placebo effect that she might even have done so even if I hadn’t slowed my own running pace to a crawl. Because never again have I seen my sister run as she did that day — spurred like a adrenaline-pumped greyhound by the intensity of her misguided belief in her despicable sibling’s lies.
Quinta da Espiga doesn’t taste like my speed potion (or what I imagine my speed potion might’ve tasted like. I mean, Christ. You don’t imagine I was idiotic enough to try it, do you?) — but it does taste a tiny bit like the second cocktail I ever made: my own top secret recipe consisting of tropical fruit squash, orange squash and water. Mixologists, take note.
That’s not to say that this wine tastes like a mixture of cheap concentrates concocted by a malicious child. Oh dear. This is going all wrong, isn’t it? Because I actually rather like the stuff. In a yes-very-nice-move-right-along kind of way. It’s sharp and bracing and gob-parchingly dry, and, yeah, there’s a backdrop of citrus and tropical fruits that reminds me of my childhood squash-mixing — in case you hadn’t picked that bit up from the laboured anecdote which consumes far more of the length of this post than does the actual review-type bit.
AND WHAT, PRECISELY, IS WRONG WITH THAT, PRAY?
Considering it’s only 12.5% ABV, it’s punchy as you like. It’s got a kind of steeliness to it that I rather admire, and it’s a little forthright, a little dominant — in a polite, middle-class, fluffy-Anne-Summers-handcuffs kind of way.
So whilst I can’t pretend it’ll make you run across the garden at twice your normal speed, I’d contend that — at well under £7 — it’s nice enough to warrant a shambling kind of jog across to fetch your wallet and order a bottle to try for yourself.