September 2007


hospital.jpghospital.jpghospital.jpghospital.jpgI had a magnum of wine the other evening.  Not all to myself you understand – that would’ve been silly.  No, my father-in-law was here, which is all the excuse needed to open a bottle twice the size of a normal one. 

I’d picked up a magnum of Chateau de L’Hospital 2003, a Graves, a couple of months ago in the Jonzac Leclerc.  I think it cost me 26 or 28 euros…certainly less than 30.  I’d been meaning to try a magnum since reading somewhere that it is regarded as the ‘proper’ size bottle from which to drink decenbt red wine.  Something about having the perfect ratio of wine to air in the bottle.  It’s probably a load of old guff, but I bought it.

Having said that, the wine was delicious (as I’m sure it would have been coming out of a regular 75cl bottle).  Oz Clarke says of Chateau de L’Hospital that “the Merlot-dominated red is round and supple with smoky red fruit” and I’m in no position to disagree.  I don’t think magnums last twice as long as a normal bottle though as we seemed to get through it quite quickly.  So much so that I had to dig out another bottle to keep us going (not another big one though…).

It’s wine fair time in the supermarkets here at the moment.  I always find it quite frustrating – so many great wines, so little ability to justify buying them all!  One of the holidaymakers staying with us last week asked me to help him choose some wine that he could buy now and drink at his daughter’s 18th birthday party (she’s currently two).  He couldn’t have chosen a better time really, with supermarket shelves groaning under the weight of thousands of bottles from the 2005 vintage for the first time, which will improve brilliantly over the next 15 years or so. 

The choice, obviously, was huge but we restrcited it by price (no more than 20 euros a bottle) and stuck to the Medoc as I thought these would age nicely.  The 2005 Chasse-Spleen looked good value at 19,95 but, by the time I made it to Carrefour on Monday (the wine fair having started on Saturday) they had completely sold out!  So I went for a dozen bottles of Chateau Poujeaux 2005 at the same price, and six Chateau Potensac 2004 at 16,50, which looked like good value.  Should make for some fine drinking at the birthday party (though I’d keep it way from the kids).

The Leclerc wine fair starts today and I’m toying with possibly making a trip down to Jonzac.  We generally pick up a few bottles of any new vintage of Chateau de Reignac – a delicious Bordeaux superior that punches well above its weight – and the Leclerc catalogue tells me they’re stocking the 2005 at 7,95 euros which is an absolute bargain.  Robert Parker gave it 91-93 points…

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380px-800px-lakeannecyhautesavoyfromfrenchwikipedia.jpgI’ve just been reading news on Jancis Robinson’s website about plans to open a centre to research and preserve Alpine grape varieties.  It’s quite a coincidence as, last night, we drank a bottle of wine, for the first time, from the Savoie.  It was a Mondeuse, one of the main Alpine grape varieties (and Robinson’s favourite, according to her Wine Course book.  Or at least the copy I’ve got, which is more than 20 years old!)

Some French friends of our have recently been on holiday in the Haute-Savoie, a region right across the other side of France from us and famous for Mont Blanc (the mountain, not the chocolate sauce that comes in tins…or the pens), Lake Annecy and ski resorts like Chamonix.

Knowing our passion for all things edible, our friends very kindly bought us some regional gifts – four different cheeses, a spicy saucisson, a beautiful little cured and smoked ham and the bottle of Mondeuse.  After having lunch out yesterday, we decided to snack on the cheese and meat last night and, as only seemed appropriate, to open the Mondeuse.

Robinson talks of “the curious deep-coloured, racy, slightly bitter red Mondeuse”.  I didn’t get much bitterness, to be honest.  We found the wine quite light (unsurprisingly more Burgundy in style than Bordeaux), very fruity and exceptionally fresh.  You could almost taste the mountain air!  It was delicious and, though I think it might be tough to find in supermarkets this far west, I shall definitely try to hunt some down.