Sunday, 31 October 2010

The author wishes to apologise...

..that he is on holiday..however he has left you the now-expected wine video to tickle you on..

Tonight - Heidsieck Heritage, about £25, Waitrose

Sunday, 24 October 2010

miles 21.08; Bike Miles 1; Units 20 excluding Saturday which was far too many!

"a happy weekend is one with more miles on my shoes than my car tyres"

Another week of just two runs - but both good quality, including some tough hills. So I am not unhappy with that - would have been good to crack 30 miles this week, though! The Sunday run was out with the running club, as before from St Catherine's in Winchester. It was crisp, dry, and everything that makes a wintry run truly great. You do just feel absolutely alive after that. It also included a rather random piece of pathway that was covered in cows, which needed shooing off the path..slightly worrying. It was along the water meadows at St. Cross - always feels very medieval at that spot, as if you could be seeing a scene that a monk would have encountered 500 years ago. There is something about these old towns that embody and then exude the years of history. I have included a photo of these meadows at St. Cross because I find it truly enigmatic, evocative...and frankly all a bit Cadfael, if you remember the monkish detective series by Ellis Peters. Indeed it is rumoured that the mist on these meadows inspired Keats to write about Autumn. Today I definitely saw that. It really was a sensational day to go out for a run!

In the week I received the annual copy of the old School magazine The Bloxhamist, and was most surprised to read that there is a Wine Society! Where was that when I was at School, eh? Actually, come to think of it, I was reminded of incidents involving raids on Mr. Bell's study, bottles of sherry and the Great Hall, maybe I did have a Wine education after all, albeit one that was more about quantity than quality. Some refinement was necessary after that whilst at University, delving into the college cellars and the local Oddbins.

Some lovely wines on Friday night, having had Keith and Pete round for dinner. I shall mention the Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Vignes Frances 2006 by Potel as particularly fine. It's classified as a Monopole, which means, unusually for Burgundy, only one person can make this wine. Elegant raspberry fruit on the nose, with a bit of earthy meatiness. Quite subtle. On the palate, gentle, tart red fruit, not too strong a tannic bite, and a bit herby. A gentle wine but with enough power and length, just altogether matching the reputation of Burgundy for ethereal wines. Quite in tune with the St. Cross mistiness above, actually - one for the Abbot's table.

And on to my new video venture - "1 wine, 60 seconds" - this time for Brunello di Montalcino Brunelli, Riserva 2001. Keep the feedback coming, I am trying to take it all on board!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

miles 20.64; Bike Miles 0; Units probably too many!

A couple of runs this week, Tuesday and Sunday, the latter a great long run - just over 14 miles - really feeling back in the swing of things, and ready to book some races now. It was just glorious to be out in the cool but sunny weather - absolute joy! I am finally feeling like I am able to run again.

It has also been a bit more of a relaxed week at work, with a couple of days on a training course, and the rest of the time in the office. Also, the throat was gently easing out by the weekend ( I did promise not to go on about it)....

....which is good when I tell you that we went to Hotel Terravina again, this time as a gift for my 40th Birthday from Carol and Huw, to take part in a 'sabrage' event, which means that you chop the top off a bottle of champagne with a sabre! All very extravagant and grand - see me brandishing said bottle in the attached photo. What a great experience that was, really very special. Thanks to C&H for that!

Other than the Champagne we also had two great wines, expertly suggested by Laura the sommelier (who, incidentally, won the Academy of Food & Wine’s UK Sommelier of the Year in 2009). The red was a lovely Pinot Noir from Villa Leyda, and the white a most unusual wine called Chignin Bergeron from Savoie in France. I have never tried a wine from this region before, so this is a real treat. The book says: "Chignin-Bergeron is a great wine, of golden yellow hue. It is very aromatic with hints of pineapple, mango, quince, apricot, hazelnut and honey. It is ready to serve, but will keep for up to 5 years, as it improves with age. Serve at about 12°C.". And that pretty much sums it up. A wonderful choice, and a real example of how putting your trust in the sommelier, and having a good dialogue, can take you to new places. The wine can be found at and goodness knows where you'd find it in the UK.

Talking of new places - one last thing. I thought it would be fun if I put up the occasional video tasting note - so, given that the Mac comes with all this kind of thing built in, I just went ahead and recorded a one-minute video, right now, which I hope works! I didn't dress for the occasion, so my apologies, I just went for it! Let us see, eh?

The wine is Ch. Phelan Segur 2003, St. Estephe.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

miles 16.23; Bike Miles 0; Units 22

Look, I know that I did promise not to go on again about being ill - but this week I got caught by a second wave - I reckon I was just feeling a bit rough.

So - poorish running, started well, rough in the middle of the week, at the weekend, a short Saturday run, felt rubbish.

Just quick wine post - the excellent Rosso di Montalcino Brunelli 2006. The junior wine from Montalcino (its big brother is Brunello di Montalcino), this is a lovely wine, all plums and brambles.Expect the bottle to go quickly, and you may want another.


Sunday, 3 October 2010

miles 7.02; Bike Miles 0; Units a fair few..

Not the greatest week for running, as you can see by the paltry total above! The start of the week took me to Lille, via Eurostar. (see the photo of Euro Lille, a concrete 'homage' to Le Corbusier..not the most compelling sight as you alight from the train..) So, I had to forego Monday's circuits, and arrived weary and late in the city. I think I must have picked up a bug on the Tuesday, and, after being very tired on my return home, the first inklings of a tight throat emerged - followed by two days of feeling really lousy! Alas, as can often be the case, those two days were extremely busy at work, so it was only really on Friday that I allowed myself a chance to be a bit ill and give in to 'man flu'. Our weekend guests also had to cancel, as they were rough as well, so to be honest the whole weekend was compromised by the snuffles - and worst of all, you are not really up to tasting any great wines! However you will be pleased to hear that I battled valiantly on, not wishing to let you, dear reader, down! I went out for a run on Saturday, claiming to myself that I was feeling a bit better. This of course was totally incorrect, and after about 3 miles the reality of my condition kicked in, so I cut short my long run and headed for home, humbled and crumbling.

Sunday had the delights and guilty pleasure of watching a black and white film in the middle of the day - the choice this time was one that I had not seen, so I thought 'why not now?', Alan Sillitoe's 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner', which is actually a pretty bleak film, all northern grit and Tough of the Track stuff. A rare glimpse of a young John Thaw, testing out some of his drama school accents! Men in tweed suits, smoking pipes and using phrases such as 'now look here laddie'. I don;t think I heard 'you've got me bang to rights, guv'nor' but you get the picture. Also the universal usage of the black plimsoll as running footwear - none of your ahar+ SPEVA foam-soled stability Asics shoes and vests made from wicking materials here, don't you know. This is running in the raw not the namby-pamby stuff that passes for it nowadays (or so they would say I imagine..).

No cycling this week either - I sure wasn't going to cycle to work and back feeling that rough! (is this turning into a bit of an 'illcast' blog? Note to self - stop.). So, my bicycle looks forlornly at me from the cold dark garage, and reproaches me.

I'd pulled out some interesting wines for the weekend, and the lack of guests was not going to get in the way of drinking some of them. One which particularly sticks in the mind is Nuits St Georges 1er cru Vaucrains 2002 by Chauvenet from the Wine Society 2002 en primeur campaign several years ago now (about £30 a bottle then, goodness knows what it would be now). It was a particularly rich and silky Burgundy from an excellent vintage. By now the 2002's are just about coming round, with plenty of raspberry flavours, a touch of sweetness, hints of cinnamon and coconut, good length of flavour, and just really well balanced. Definitely stylish and complete, and showing the charm of the vintage.

Here endeth feeling sorry for myself...