Friday, September 11, 2020


This post could also have been titled: 'HEY, I'M PAYING GOOD MONEY HERE SUNSHINE!' 

I'm well over the dining out experience especially when the establishment and its staff think that they are owed something merely for existing.

When we lived in Toronto there was a swanky wanky place that we went to a couple of times before tiring of the silly staffing hierarchy. See: HERE

A couple of months back we went to a swanky wanky eatery in our street (Richard and Shelley were with us) where we were sold an over-priced and, as it turned out, an illegally labelled bottle of wine that in no way met the glowing description on the wine list. I went back the next day and had it out with the manager - a supercilious - wank and obtained a $75 credit. Poor old Richard still has nightmares over this and fills his blogs and comments on other blogs with his experience of a chilled red wine.

Last night we went to a wanky Italian restaurant with ordinary but overpriced food, an ordinary wine list and some staff who thought it better to chat with their friends rather than do any actual order taking.

Afterwards we went to The Library which is a rare and wonderful find being a late night bar and eatery with live music. It's named The Library because there are stacked bookshelves galore in the place. Old comfortable sofas with tables are hidden away in alcoves in a maze-like setting. It's reminiscent of the cafes of the 1970s that I frequented as a student and has a Prohibition era speakeasy or opium den quality about it. It is neat but ...... the joker who showed us to a table and gave us a wine list let the place down. He went away and left us there for too long. I had to stand up and wave my hands around at him and a waitress for a while before he deigned to come over.

"Can I help you" he asked.

"Well, yes" I replied "We want to order some wine"

Fearing that he would wander away again I quickly ordered a couple of glasses of (overpriced) pinot noir that I'd seen on the wine list. He went away and fetched it (very small servings). The wine was good but I've seen the bottle price in wineshops hence the 'overpriced' comment. On paying before leaving (Geoff paid) this guy - I don't know if he was the owner, the manger or simply a waiter - had an "I'm too good to be here doing this shit' manner about him.

As much as I liked this place, and the music, I doubt if I'll go back.

As I said in the opening to this post I'm over fancy restaurants and now prefer cheap and cheerful (ideally) cafes manned by people who want to be there and respect the fact that you, as the customer are paying for a pleasant time.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Once again I've been blending my wines.

A while ago I bought a case of Larry Mckenna's Escarpment chardonnay.

THIS GUY although it's an old photo

McKenna is one of the country's best chardonnay makers having carved out a reputation in the 1970s with Delegats and Martinborough Vineyards before making out on his own.

I bought his 2014 Escarpment chardonnay from an on-line seller along with a case of his riesling.
The wine is beautifully made with ripe but fine fruit and heavy use of good oak. The result is a tightly structured white Burgundy style with strong lees character and minerality. Serious wine. I like it but, although it still has a lot of life in it given the vintage (2014) and the colour still looks like a young wine - the reductive notes and a bit of fruit drop doesn't make it delicious.
The answer? Drop in some younger chardonnay in to refresh it.

I normally don't buy 'cleanskins' as I like to know a bit about the provenance of the wines I drink but I bought a case of this on-line because of the sellers 'blurb' and yes, it was cheap. I thought that it would be a good blender and I was right having used it a few times to freshen up tired and older wines. as I do see: HERE

The 2017 Gisborne chardonnay while a bit ordinary on its own has enough fruit and acidity to give the older wine a 'kick' and definitely rejuvenates it.

* You'll have to view the earlier post via the link

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


We don't dink a lot of spirits yet we've got lots of unused bottles of liqueurs, whiskies, cognac, gin etc in the cupboard - results of a quick grab at Duty Free on the way home from overseas trips.

Just lately I've taken to having a glass of vodka and tonic as a change from wine. I only ever feel like having one, admittedly a large one and it's a nice pre-dinner cocktail. As I don't like to 'mix the grape with the grain' it's also a good way of cutting down on wine consumption.

The lockdown, with bottle shops being closed though, means that I can't buy a bottle of nice vodka - I prefer NZ crafted ones like 42 Below, Broken Shed and others but I'm not a hipster.


I fossicked around at the back of the cupboard and found a couple of old bottles of vodka - one old and the other very old. Both had been opened.

The old one is EFFEN Cherry which is a Dutch vodka I've had for 25 years. It's really nice but was forgotten about.

It's one of the samples I was given by the producer back in the 1990s when we were evaluating it as a brand to import. We passed on the opportunity and I'm not sure if any was imported by anyone else. I've certainly never seen it on the shelves. Although it's been open a while it still has lots of flavour and the alcohol hasn't dropped much.

The very old bottle is a Russian brand named PARROT.

This bottle is over 60 old being from the 1950s or early 1960s. I found it while clearing out the underground cellars of the old Hughes and Cossar store in Khyber Pass Auckland back in the mid 1980s.
It's been opened since about 1990 - 30 years ago and, apart from the alcohol drop down to about 25 to 30% is still remarkably flavoursome and interesting.

A recent discovery of ours is the East Imperial tonic company which makes a range of different flavoured tonics and other mixers. We get it delivered by the boxful.
Her Indoors likes the grapefruit flavoured tonic with her gin but I prefer the 'Old World' style.

It's a local company and they claim to use the true ingredients which certainly show through in the flavours.
The real beauty is that they are single-serve 150ml bottles. This means that if you only want one drink you only open the little bottle without having a half bottle or more of tonic sitting around to either go off or induce you to have another drink.

Sunday, March 15, 2020


* Well, to be honest everyday is a day of rest for me nowadays.

Sunday, in my life experience has had religious connotations even though I abandoned Catholicism  when i was about 15.

Wikipedia tells us:
Sunday is a day of rest in most Western countries, as a part of the weekend and weeknight. For most observant Christians, Sunday is observed as a day of worship and rest, holding it as the Lord's Day and the day of Christ's resurrection. In some Muslim countries and Israel, Sunday is the first work day of the week.
OK, Christians as per usual try to take over what is a rest day from the working week and convert it to their own ends. We're used to that.

I like Sundays though. There is something palpable in the atmosphere. Maybe it's because many people are not working and commuting to their jobs. The sounds in the neighbourhood are different - sounds of leisure activity and, I guess, the absence of sound from people who are resting.
Sundays are always relaxing and for relaxing.

It's a beautiful Sunday here today. Blue skies, warm, no wind - marvellous.
The lawns need mowing and it would be ideal conditions to do so, with a dip in the sea at high tide afterward but I don't want to break the peace. I get annoyed by those gung-ho home maintenance types who fire up their mowers, weed-eaters, blowers and other noisy shit on a Sunday. There are 6 other days to do this.

I'll keep listening to the radio, read, do crosswords and enjoy the sunshine on the deck until later in the afternoon when I'll go out and play some golf.

Sunday. Don't you love it?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


"Richard does really know a good wine. Try giving him a cheapie on his birthday!" said Robert in a comment on my previous post.

Robert is the guy who believes in the miracles of Jesus including that turning water into wine nonsense.

This cartoon seems to be applicable to both of the above.

Saturday, March 7, 2020


I guess that most wine drinkers have preferences in styles, varietals, countries of origins etc that condense down to one or two favourites as we grow older.

I've been a wine appreciator for nearly 50 years and have tasted nearly all of the varietals, styles and countries of origin wines that the world has to offer. From those I have had many preferences that I have marketed, bought, sold, collected and drunk and have been lucky enough to have tasted some very special wines and vintages.

As I've grown older Her Indoors and I have narrowed our preferences down to favourites.

My favourites are:

  • Champagne
  • Pinot Noir
  • Chardonnay
I still have some preferences like riesling, and rose-styles but generally my purchasing and drinking is from the three favourites.

Within each of the favourites I guess I have some sub loves and hates as follows:

  • Vintage vs non-vintage
  • Champagne vs Methode styles
but, hey when needs must I'll drink non vintage or a good methode.

  • Wooded vs unwooded preferably barrique fermented
  • New Zealand vs most other countries unless someone offered me a Burgundy
  • Hawkes Bay vs any other region and certainly not Marlborough
Exceptions can be a good Californian or top Australian chardonnay and good vintages from Gisborne, Martinborough, Nelson or Waipara but never Marlborough.

Pinot Noir
  • New Zealand first and foremost but occasionally will drink a good French or American pinot noir.
  • Waipara as first choice followed by Martinborough, Central Otago and Nelson at a pinch. Sometimes a good Marlborough wine catches my fancy.

Following these favourites and some of my preferences leads me to buying my wines on-line from a few reliable sellers or waiting for supermarket wine sales where I do pick up bargains.
The problem with my choice of favourites though is that I've gravitated to the most expensive categories of wines especially when seeking out good examples.

If my favourites were those godawful sauvignon blanc and pinot gris I'd be able to save a lot of money as these white varietals are among the cheapest and most promoted. In reds pinot noir is on average the most expensive, certainly much more than well made merlot, cabernet sauvignon or shiraz wines. If I'd developed a taste for non-methode type sparkling then there would be plenty of bargains for me out there as well.

Hoisted by my own petard I guess.

Sunday, January 19, 2020


Here's a new one I discovered when opening a bottle of Kim Crawford FIZZ the other day:

Muselet on Kim Crawford FIZZ bottle

It reads: "WARNING CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE! See back label for more information."

What the fuck?

This world of namby-pamby millennials is just getting worse compounded by the overuse of litigation when anything small happens especially in the USA. No surprises then to see that this product is produced for the North American market (Fizz is the nickname of Constellation NZ's Felicity who has overseen shipping logistics to USA and Canada for many years) and the back label is in dual language- English and French.

Where and when will this coddling stop? One assumes that the purchaser of this product had a fair idea that it was a sparkling wine.

It is in a sparkling wine bottle. It has a foil cap and a muselet to hold in the sparkling wine cork. The label clearly states that the wine is Methode Traditionelle.
The back label also states:

  • Sparkling wine /Vin mousseux
  • When opening point away from body/Bien tenir le bouchon au moment de l'ouverture
OK. That's enough overkill.

Another overkill in wine label regulations for USA is:

GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.