Sunday, 26 September 2010

miles 22.53; Bike Miles 1; Units 23

A short post this week, as I am sitting here with a bit of a cold, feeling sorry for myself! Of course this should really form part of next week's blog, but there you are. A couple of runs, nothing spectacular. A difficult week to get in mid-week exercise, with 3 days out up and down the country. Sunday Long Run was on my own, and as such I put in a good time - 15 miles at my proposed marathon pace - and not too wiped out on my return. So, all good. (hence disappointing to be 'grounded' tonight!). The solitary mile was, as always, the quick dash into Romsey on Saturday for a forgotten ingredient, as we prepared foods etc for next weekend's guests.

Wine of the week was a delight - from a mixed case of villages 2007 Rhone wines. It was Coudoulet de Beaucastel 2007 (about £15-£17 a bottle, at Berry Bros.), the second wine of the esteemed estate Chateau Beaucastel in Chateauneuf du Papes. It is on land that is just outside the boundary of the famous wine (in fact it is the other side of the A7!) and the soil is not that different. The high proportion of Mourvedre - about 30% - gives a strong backbone to the wine, and in a great vintage (oh I am excited about the better 2007's now!) when combined with Grenache, the wine is infused with aromas of leather, tobacco and spice, and rich fullness of fruit. For years this has been a 'hidden bargain'. Alas no more -
but still excellent value. And if you don't agree with me - listen to Robert Parker, who gave this wine a 91/92 score (which usually adds about 20% to the price) and said '..may be Beaucastel’s finest example of this wine since they first introduced it in 1978....this sumptuous, deep ruby/purple-tinged Coudoulet exhibits notes of smoky blackberries, roasted meats, incense, licorice, and underbrush. Opulent, sexy, and full-bodied, with abundant tannin, structure, freshness, and precision, this glorious wine should be purchased by the case when released in early 2009.

Spot on, Robert!

ps photo is from Beaucastel's website, of the famous stones or 'galets' that soak up the sun and radiate it back at night to the vines, hence lengthening the ripening season

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Miles 17.47; Bike Miles 11; Units 26

The week of the Hursley 10k arrives! Two short but fast runs in the week, then a couple of days resting, before toeing the line. It was another glorious day, a little windy, but nothing to worry about. As ever the carnival atmosphere made this a very special race, over the IBM Hursley estate. That only adds to the sense of something a bit secret - 500+ people all gathering, as if by some unknown force, to run over the oh-so-confidential hub of IBMs development home, across tracks and fields, with not a single step on a public road! As if to add to the air of peculiarity the photo of the START actually reads FINISH - the more astute amongst you will realise that we return and end the race under this banner going the other way. Surely the techno boffins at Hursley could scrub out the words with photoshop? Or indeed is this still within the spirit of 1950's Cold War counter-intel, putting the enemy spy off the scent? Oh, I am transported back to the world of Grahame Greene already...B&W gloomy photos, a thin band of smoke rising, a dead letter drop, codewords, lots of gin and tonic... stop that and get back to the race report! Delighted with the result, a time of 42.11 over a hilly and rutted course, 19th overall and 6th in my age group (for indeed now I am a Male 40+ not a senior), which is very pleasing. Also, lots of people running the race with me, such as Ian from Wellow Fitness, Matt and Luke (in fact we were trying to find a Matthew, then we could have run as the four apostles...). And, after that, lunch at the Plough with Matt and Luke. Happy days indeed.

The usual cycle to work on Wednesday - just as before, though noticeably getting chillier this time!

Wine of the week - well, I should call it delivery of the week! I decided to withdraw some wines from storage, and so on Friday, the excitement of 7 cases of mixed Burgundy, Rhone, Italian and Claret arriving! from this selection I chose Domaine Jean Grivot Vosne Romanee 2005 as the first to be tried. Humble villages wine from a great producer in an excellent vintage. Immediately it looks serious for this rung of the quality ladder village wine. The colour was deep and bright, ripe strawberry fruit with a hint of earthiness, and the tiniest amount of new oak. On the palate it was midweight, good fruit, length, and some tannin. Definitely well above village quality and with a few years ahead. A fulsome reminder of why Burgundy - when it is good - rocks when compared to sweet, fruity New Zealand Pinots.

Pip Pip

Sunday, 12 September 2010

miles 20.79; Bike Miles 2; Units 24

I mark a milestone this week with a return to (a bit) of hard training. Clearly the imminence of the Hursley 10k has impressed itself on my mind. So, I tried out 5 x 1km fast, with a 90 second float. Actually I was not that bad at all. I even think I could have gone faster. So, a really good start, though one training session does not a Gebrselassie make...anyway I really enjoyed that feeling of pushing again, that sense of making yourself work hard. There is a phrase, 'being in flow', that seems to sum up good training so well. The sense of flow comes best when you have a challenge that matches your skills, you know why you are running, the feedback is unambiguous (hitting a target time for an interval sure is unambiguous!) and you can focus only on the present. When you get this going, even tough tasks feel good. I am reminded of the excellent books from the 'runner's philosopher', George Sheehan, who just seems to sum up so well why we run. Out on Sunday with Southampton AC - just 4 of us this time for a great 15-miler through Hursley and Farley Mount. Some chunky hills including a 1.5 mile solid uphill drag! Really good day for it though, with the sun just starting to rise. So, a good week.

This week a glorious wine - Italian of course to symbolise both Monza and the Ferrari win of Alonso.

I am as you know an avowed McLaren fan but also an Italianophile, so I am naturally torn,. No difficulty with choosing Italian wine though - the truly excellent Rosso di Sera 2004, Fattoria Poggiopiano. The mix is Sangiovese 90%, Colorino 10%, and though this is almost Chianti Classico riserva, the estate declassifies it as IGT Toscana to enable it to be freed up from the rules. A great wine from the first taste - well balanced, with dark berries, coffee and a hint of maple syrup and rich spice. Big, full-bodied and rich, yet silky and wonderfully textured. Loads going on. Gorgeous.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Miles 19.3; Bike Miles 8; Units 24

A new running determination has come back to me this week, as I stare at two inevitabilities. 1) I am entered for the Hursley 10k in 2 weeks, and, much as I may like to think that I have all my fitness still in my legs, I really don't when it comes to going faster. I am still able to knock out 15 miles at a fair old lick, but faster work - well, I probably haven't run as fast as a 10k requires since about early April and 2) I am also starting to slip just a bit through a lack of a goal. I have determined that I intend to run London next April if I get a place, or a club place (I will not take a charity place as I cannot be bothered with the fundraising - sorry - done it twice now!) and so I will need to get used to hard work again. So, only two runs, but both good ones this week.

I went out for a cycle on Wednesday evening as I just fancied it - it was raining yet again so I was not bold enough to cycle in to work; however, by the evening it had all improved dramatically. Therefore delighted to be getting my bike miles in. I still open the garage with a frisson of excitement, seeing my new machine in there, ready and waiting, asking to be used. It even looks athletic! I clearly have some kind of machine love going on.

On the wine front, a special event! This week I hosted a wine tasting for 12 people at a local restaurant - a proper paying engagement. It came from a chance comment from a company that we have worked with, looking for a wine event. I said "Why not me?" and they said "absolutely". So, we tasted eight wines, which were:

Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV
Reuilly Les Bouchauds 2009 Gérard Bigonneau
Peter Lehmann Riesling 2008 Eden Valley
Albariño Martin Codax 2009 Rias Baixas
Régnié 2009 Les Côtes de Saint Cyr
Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2008 Marlborough
Rioja Reserva 2005 Marqués de Riscal
Gigondas 2006 E Guigal
(all from Majestic)

Without doubt the winners were the Albarino (I think I have mentioned this one before, really rich, chalky-dry and very interesting on the palate) and the Gigondas (big, bold, spicy and berry flavours). The Pelorus also went down very well and was the equal of most champagnes.

So, I am delighted to have shown the way on the tasting front - I am good at it, I enjoy it - can I build a career around it do you think? According to John Williams from the seminal 'Screw work, Let's Play" I have written my first 'playcheque'.

Pip Pip.