A beautiful, elegant, lithe Pinot Noir — with a glimmer of filth in its eye

… is elegant and lithe and beautiful and charming as you like — but with that little glimmer of filth in its eye.

Close-up of the yellow label of a bottle of 2007 Pinot Noir from Martinborough VineyardsOkay. 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.

Yup.

Rating ★★★★★ 5 stars (outstanding)
Grape Pinot Noir
Region Martinborough
Price £25 or so from The Wine Society (no longer available, sadly, but you might want to try the ‘second wine’ from the same producer); or Majestic has the 2009 for £30; £24 each if you buy a couple. Which you should.

The Shit Written On Wine Labels

In which Old Parn takes issue with the arse-woundingly banal, turgid bunch of old silage that gets written on wine labels

A macro shot of the text written on the back of a bottle of red wine from Marks & Spencer

There are plenty of things in this life that give me a wounding great pain in the arse. If you want to hear more about them, I suggest you follow me and my wounded arse on Twitter.

But, today, my arse is in ribbons thanks to the banal, turgid bunch of old silage that gets written on wine labels. Here are four arse-wounding things that wine producers should stop doing. Right now.

1. Giving ludicrously specific/esoteric food matching suggestions

Excellent. So your wine goes well with lava-cooked unicorn steaks marinated in dolphins’ milk and irony. That’s helpful. Your head goes well with your arse. May I suggest you match the two?

2. Giving ludicrously vague/fallacious food matching suggestions

Oh really? Goes well with fish, chicken and meats, you say? Now. You realise that chicken is meat, right? Yes, so Shakespeare could get away with doing stuff like that. ‘Angels and ministers of grace’ — that kind of thing. But you can’t.

Moreover, if your wine actually does go well with everything from pan-fried plaice to seared chilli tuna steaks to coq au vin to frigging beef and ale stew, congratulations. You have succeeded in distilling the mythical liquid of ambrosia. And all the other winemakers might as well just give up now and start constructing dubiously phallic monuments in your honour.

Or else, you’re a lying charlatan.

Now, which’ll it be?

3. Spewing out interminable, drivelling blather

I don’t give a halfhearted wipe of a frog’s arse about the view from your winery. Nor do I trust your declarations of ‘passion’ any further than I could throw the metaphysical concept of passion. Which is no distance. Because it’s a metaphysical concept, and TRY AS I MIGHT I CAN’T SEEM TO PICK IT UP.

I’ll be the judge of your goddamn capacity for passion. So let’s get a hotel room and we can work out a mark out of 100.

4. Including any kind of pun in the wine’s name. Whatsoever. No exceptions.

I’m not going to elaborate. I’m tired now.

What wounds your arse, dear reader?

What else do those label-crafting buggers do that causes you to double up in agonised rage and frustration? Tell us — share the pain — and, in so doing, administer the internet’s very own soothing arse-balm, by leaving a comment.

UPDATE: Inspired by Graeme’s comment, below, I’m upping the stakes. Provide a particularly lamentable example of wine label wank (in the comments, below) and I’ll send you some kind of prize. To be decided. So search those wine racks/liquor store shelves for the purplest prose you can find. Enter as many times as you like. Make us laugh/cry. Wound our delicate arses. You’ve got until the end of the week.

UPDATE 2: Okay, so the prize will be a bottle of this rather lovely wine, Verd Albera, I just reviewed. The best comment(s) will get one (unless you’re overseas, in which case you might have to settle for something else).

Wine and sex

In which Old Parn — in celebration of his 100th post — draws a shimmering parallel between two hedonistic pastimes

A cropped photograph of a woman sexily licking her brightly-lipsticked lipsEach time you have sex, do you give it a mark out of 100?

I think you do not.

Oh, how provocative! Oh, how extreme! Oh, but rating wines is not remotely like rating that other thing. Oh, it’s quite disgusting! Guards! Guards! Take him away!

But wait: I’m just trying to give an account of what I’m doing, here. Because I don’t want to write about wines like an examiner; I want to write about wines like a lover. I want to be shamelessly abandoned, shamelessly subjective, in a pursuit which invites (and is pretty much meaningless without) shameless abandonment and subjectivity.

Not saying there’s no place for ratings out of 100. Not lashing out at nobody who does it. This is about me. My approach. (Yeah, what a fucking egotist I am. But you know this.)

I guess it’s important to be upfront about this. If you want studied objectivity, go elsewhere in your noble quest. Hell, I admire objectivity. But I admire it from a fucking massive great distance. Like a prudent stalker armed with camo gear and good binoculars.

Anyhow. The above explains why my favourite wines are often pretty damn fuckable.

That’s all. As you were.

(Oh, yeah, and this is Old Parn’s 100th blog post. If the earth moved for you at any point, do leave a comment.)

Potel Aviron Moulin-a-Vent 2005 review

… triumphantly reminds us that the word ‘fruity’ actually refers to real, honest fruit — not the synthetic sugar-water peddled by oily bell-ends in ugly suits

Label of this bottle of Beaujolais from Moulin a Vent. Simple, text on white

What have we here? A bottle of Beaujolais, yeah. This’n hails from the region of Moulin-a-Vent — one of the ten so-called ‘crus’ (specific small areas of Beaujolais that are classified as the top regions).

Which is all, doubtless, very nice to know.

The reason I mention it, though, is that you may already have an idea what to expect of a nippy little Beaujolais. And this Moulin-a-Vent may upend your expectations.

Because Beaujolais is the Lolita of the red wine world, except (I damn well hope) with a bit less implicit moral degeneracy. We expect a Beaujolais, don’t we, to be consumed in the very bloom of its youth? All flowers and fruits and heady perfume.

But it needn’t always be thus. And this is one wine that you may not want to tip down your gullet before it’s even reached its second birthday.

And so — with the aid of my parents and some damn nice lamb leg steaks — I decided to give this six-year-old a whirl.

And a rather damn good whirl it was, too.

Verdict

First, can I just say: fruit. Fruit. This is what I want to taste when someone tells me a wine is ‘fruity’. I want it to be — like this — as if I’d just crammed my thirsty gob with a handful of sharp, wild berries, picked from, oh, I don’t know, a forest thicket or something. All bright and sharp and savage, the shudder-inducing burst of flavour giving way to the bitter, matt cud of the skins.

That’s fruity. Let us never forget, and allow some oily bell-end in an ugly suit sell us the notion that ‘fruity’ actually means ‘tastes like fucking synthetic fruit-flavoured sugar-water’.

So this is fruity like wild cherries fished from your the pocket of your grandad’s tweed jacket — overlaid with spice and tobacco and polish and leather. Still youthful, oh yes — but this is a kind of autumnal youth, a rustic youth. Not a lab-grown, foetal youth.

I love wine like this — wine that combines a come-and-get-me vitality with a self-confident integrity.

And reminds us that the word fruity belongs to us, to the hedgerows, to the soil — not to some bunch of pink-tied FMCG wankers.

Rating ★★★★ 4 stars (very good)
Region Moulin-a-Vent, Beaujolais
Grape(s) Gamay
ABV 13%
Price £10.99 from The Wine Society (no longer available)

English Bacchus Reserve, Chapel Down

… will give you a subtly blossomed English caress — but perhaps leave you dreaming of ecstatic frenzy and phallic symbolism

A bottle of English Bacchus from Marks & Spencer. Stylish black, red and gold label

Trust the Romans, eh?

Those unimaginative Romans, who came along and — without a by-your-leave — pinched the Greeks’ pantheon of gods, slapped a bunch of considerably less poetic names on them, carried out a few changes to make them altogether that bit more shit, and touted them as their own.

The Romans were a bit like Microsoft.

Anyhow. Bacchus was the Romans’ rebranded version of the Greeks’ Dionysus, god of wine — a tantalisingly androgynous kind of chap, holding (according to the oracular Wikipedia) ‘a fennel staff, tipped with a pine-cone and known as a thyrsus’.

For my next profile picture, incidentally, I intend to brandish a thyrsus, sure in the knowledge that I’ll thereby attract a large following of ecstatically raving bacchantes — female devotees who, via dancing and intoxication, ‘lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly [and] engage in uncontrolled sexual behaviour’.

(Not to imply that I don’t already enjoy such a following, natch.)

Anyhow. Bacchus is also — and I hope this doesn’t come as too much of a crashing shock to you, after all that deity stuff — a grape variety. Grown in England, of all places.

So from Olympian heights, we find ourselves in the wine aisle of Marks & Spencer.

Mundane enough for you?

But let’s stave off thoughts of our own desperate mortality and get some of the stuff down our gullet, shall we? (Reminder: if you actually are in the wine aisle of M&S, you should probably buy the bottle and get it home before you do this.)

So — what’ve we got? First off, bacchus bears more than a passing likeness to sauvignon blanc. It has that springy zing to it. But here, there’s an appley softness, too. A subtly blossomed caress, if you want to get all wanky about it.

Yeah, it’s rounder, more welcoming, less showy-off than your everyday sauvignon blanc. Not quite as ‘June is bustin’ out all over’, y’know? But still with that crispness, that green taste to it — if you’ll forgive me coming over all synesthaesiac on you.

Nice and long and dry, with rather a lovely balance.

Yeah, it’s on the pricey side (which keeps it from earning that oh-so-coveted fourth star) — but perhaps that’s what you have to stump up for a subtly blossomed English caress, these days.

Alternatively, blossomed caresses be damned: just get yourself a thyrsus and bring on the ecstatic frenzy of those bacchantes. Who’s with me?

Rating ★★★ 3 stars (good)
ABV 12.5%
Price £10.99 from Marks & Spencer

D’Aquino Reserve Merlot review

… is one Merlot that can grab onto Old Parn’s ankles any day of the week — soft yet taut; fleshy, springy, grabbable without being podgy

Naked Wines' D'Aquino Merlot: simple label with cursive typography and traditional crest

Bang! That’s my boy, Naked, that’s my boy. A confident, bold, self-possessed Merlot. Merlot with dignity. Not gutter-Merlot that grasps at your ankles, wheedling and baring its rotten teeth in the terrifying semblance of a smile, reeking of cheap sweet perfume.

(Oh Merlot. Poor maligned, abused Merlot.)

No. For whilst D’Aquino certainly throws up a bountiful snoutful of smells, cheap sweet perfume is not amongst them. Because this Merlot smells good.

Once you snatch it away from your nose and get it down you, you’ll encounter that familiar softness that can (at times) be Merlot’s own worst enemy. That voluptuousness that so easily goes to seed. But here it’s soft yet taut. Fleshy, springy, grabbable without being podgy. Very, very appealing.

Deliciously fruity, it’s backed up (and balanced) with a thrilling savagery. A coffee bitterness, a sprightly, sexy little kick of petulance. And a dab of oak immediately to caress buy cialis pills away the resultant bruise.

Verdict

Interesting that this (I’ll come out and say it: the best Naked Wine I’ve drunk so far) is perhaps one I was least fussed to try. I wasn’t closed-minded, but wondered whether I might be in for a pubbish tutti-frutti Merlot.

But if I found a pub that sold this, I’d be able to stop hanging around in poncy wine bars.

(Who am I kidding? I’d still hang around in poncy wine bars.)

And to get the full five stars? I’d like a little more presence in the gob, I think. I’m a greedy bugger for presence in the gob, though. And let’s not quibble. Because this here is one Merlot that can grab onto my ankles any day of the week.

Rating ???? (4 stars)
ABV 13.5%
Price £10.99 from Naked Wines (£7.33 to members)