Thursday, November 25, 2010


I made cookies today (I prefer to use the word biscuits though as I'm pissed off with the proliferation of Americanisms in our language). I started with a vanilla base and added raisins and rum. Real rum. Lots of it. I wasn't following a recipe and just kept adding raisins and pouring in the rum until it kind of looked right.

They cooked without any problem and were only a little more moist than the usual. The flavour is stunning. The alcohol is still evident as the sticky mixture maybe trapped it inside and they were only in the oven for 10 minutes so there may not have been time for it to totally evaporate. Anyway, they have a kick.

I used Appleton's 12 y.o. This is a very good rum that has a nice vanilla taste (from the wood ageing as this is real 12 y.o that I have had for a long time). Smooth and sexy it is great for summer evenings and just made for these biscuits. I'll just have to be careful who I feed them to - I don't want to get casual callers drunk.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I've had enough of old wines... or so I thought. I have had a long history in the wine business and as a private collector and drinker of wines. Over the years I have tried many old, properly cellared  wines of good pedigree. Some have been sublime. Others of academic interest. Some years ago I decided that I would rather drink the wines young and imagine what they would be like with some age on them. When it came to Pinot Noir, especially New Zealand Pinot Noir, I would drink them up really early and try not to keep them too long in the cellar. Around about the same time that I came to this decision (a few years ago) I decided that I really didn't like Marlborough Pinot Noir as much as (in order of preference) Waipara, Martinborough and Central Otago Pinot Noir. Tonight I made a mince pie. Actually, I had a nice mince mixture (lamb mince, chillies, carrots and peas with flavourings of soy sauce, Worcester sauce, rosemary, oregano, ginger and garlic - try it its nice) in the freezer and the Old Girl had frozen some left over pastry she makes when she made a leek and potato pie last week. Result - a nice looking single serve mince pie which I will have with mashed potatoes and broccoli from the garden. Anyway. I decided that a nice light red wine would go well with this, perhaps an Italian style red. In the cellar I fossicked about and found a couple of old Chiantis and a Negroamaro  - not enticing enough to bother bring up to the kitchen. Moving a couple of boxes I came across a cache of older NZ wines and selected a 2001 and a 2004 Drylands Pinot Noir. I'm pretty familiar with the wine style and know the provenance of the grapes but to be honest I didn't expect much from them. I grabbed a 2007 Rioja just in case I had to do some blending. Surprise, surprise - the wines are drinking well. I opened the 2001 first thinking it would be way past its use-by date. It does have an aged character on the nose and in colour is showing some browning - but, holding it to the light - albeit fading a bit at 7PM, it still retains some cherry-pink hues. The flavour is a complete surprise. There is an explosion of cherry-fruit with something heavier (plums?). Now a 2001 light Pinot Noir from Marlborough shouldn't be doing this. It finishes a bit 'burnt' - my descriptor for aged wines - but generally is holding up bloody well. I should have left it there and enjoyed the wine with my dinner but was intrigued as to what the 2004 vintage is doing so I opened that as well. Well! The colour seems to be a bit deeper but not that much. Is the 2001 a better variation methinks. The 2004 presents better on the nose -  fresher with a marzipan characteristic. Nice. The flavour is not as intense but soft and rounded like Brigitte Bardot (Where did that come from? Perhaps a concession to TSB? - ed) 

with a long finish. The wine has substance, structure and will hold up for a couple of years. Will I change my mind about the longevity of NZ wines? Yes. Re Marlborough vs other regions? Yes. A good experiment. Now I have two bottles of 13.5% alc. wines open. I'll do my best but will probably try out the cryogenic experiment again with the remainder.
Oh! By the way. Best musical choice while writing this has been Led Zeppelin Albums 1 and 2 (on random). Excellent.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I've mentioned before that a good way to keep leftover wine that you know you won't use over the next few days is to freeze it. When thawed out there might be a bit of haze but the wine will be almost as good as when you put it in the freezer (there will be some slow oxidation going on so generally it has an aged characteristic). A couple of months ago someone gave me a bottle of 2006 NZ Barrique Chardonnay. This is a good brand and the wine had won a trophy in a wine competition. I tried it and recognised its good qualities but, being 4 years old it was showing its age. We only drank half the bottle and I put the rest in the freezer thinking to bring it out later and blend with a younger wine. Well I did bring it out of the freezer tonight, nuked it a bit in the microwave oven to melt some of the ice and tried it. Once the haze had settled (leaving a decent teaspoon full of sludge in the bottom of the glass) the wine was clean and shiny and, wonder of wonders was rejuvenated. The aged characteristics it showed on first being opened ( a couple of months ago) had disappeared. The wine was fresh and I'm sure, in a wine tasting might have passed as a 2008 version. I'm keen to repeat the experiment with some older wines. Perhaps it has something to do with the 'drop-out' of the haze( dead yeasts, tannins etc.). Interesting.