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A bottle (am I allowed a whole bottle?) of St Emilion.
L’Angelus, Pavie , Ausone or Cheval Blanc?

Or maybe a Pomerol - Vieux Chateau Certan or L’ Pin?

Great Pomerols can mimic the finest Red Burgundies. La Conseillante for instance can taste very much like a Chambertain or a Clos de la Roche.

Burnt sugar, strawberry vanilla Creme brûlée. Fat in the mouth, but not cloying and a finish that goes on till breakfast.

And on the nose? If they were sold as perfume, many of the great perfumeries would go out of business.
 

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A bottle of Youngest Sheep will be good enough for me! (Let's see who can work that one out!)

On the other hand, I may now change my order to a beer! A few weeks ago one of my nieces got married. Arriving at the reception, lots of people standing around drinking fizzy urine prosecco. The bride was doing the usual thing of greeting the guests, but the groom was not by her side.

"Where's Rob?"

"He's wandered off somewhere with a beer"

"You mean I can have a beer rather than that crap?"

"Yes, we've got some in specially."

So, I wander over to the table where the drinks are, pick up a gaudy-looking can bearing the name "Inhaler". Hmm. . . a beer with a name like that is either going to be garbage or nectar; costs nothing to try.

I am here to tell you that Inhaler is the nectar of the gods! It's all a matter of taste, of course, but here's how the brewery, Magic Rock Brewing in Huddersfield, describes it:

"Inhaler is our pale ale/IPA hybrid designed to showcase some of the punchy new world hop varieties which work so well in modern hop forward beers. Pale malt, a little crystal malt for extra body, low bitterness and then six different hops! Super fruity, super ripe, super juicy and super drinkable. Breathe it in! "
 

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A bottle of Youngest Sheep will be good enough for me! (Let's see who can work that one out!)

On the other hand, I may now change my order to a beer! A few weeks ago one of my nieces got married. Arriving at the reception, lots of people standing around drinking fizzy urine prosecco. The bride was doing the usual thing of greeting the guests, but the groom was not by her side.

"Where's Rob?"

"He's wandered off somewhere with a beer"

"You mean I can have a beer rather than that crap?"

"Yes, we've got some in specially."

So, I wander over to the table where the drinks are, pick up a gaudy-looking can bearing the name "Inhaler". Hmm. . . a beer with a name like that is either going to be garbage or nectar; costs nothing to try.

I am here to tell you that Inhaler is the nectar of the gods! It's all a matter of taste, of course, but here's how the brewery, Magic Rock Brewing in Huddersfield, describes it:

"Inhaler is our pale ale/IPA hybrid designed to showcase some of the punchy new world hop varieties which work so well in modern hop forward beers. Pale malt, a little crystal malt for extra body, low bitterness and then six different hops! Super fruity, super ripe, super juicy and super drinkable. Breathe it in! "
Never really got my head around Rioja, too much dirty wood for my tastes. And if I want that much vanilla, I would have an ice cream or Creme Brûlée!

However, I had a 50 centilitre bottle of “Ramon”, 2014, from Bilbao. Bought at our local Cooperative. £7.00 and worth every penny and more. Absolutely delicious. Loads of body, round, sweet tannins. Lovely fruit, light creamy vanilla from the wood - French, not American, I think. Very deft use to compliment the weight of the fruit.

Shall buy some more - really lovely.
 

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Never really got my head around Rioja, too much dirty wood for my tastes. And if I want that much vanilla, I would have an ice cream or Creme Brûlée!

However, I had a 50 centilitre bottle of “Ramon”, 2014, from Bilbao. Bought at our local Cooperative. £7.00 and worth every penny and more. Absolutely delicious. Loads of body, round, sweet tannins. Lovely fruit, light creamy vanilla from the wood - French, not American, I think. Very deft use to compliment the weight of the fruit.

Shall buy some more - really lovely.
Funny you should mention Rioja! Last week we took advantage of an offer from one of the big wine retailers, basically their choice of four bottles (reds in our case) at £6.99/bottle & with free postage. When we opened the massive box they came in my wife said, in a rather disdainful tone, "one of them's a Rioja". The Cuvée du Vatican Côtes du Rhône Réserve de l'Abbé that we drank yesterday was excellent!

"Youngest Sheep", by the way, is Mouton Cadet!
 

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Never really got my head around Rioja, too much dirty wood for my tastes. And if I want that much vanilla, I would have an ice cream or Creme Brûlée!
I love a nice Rioja. Unfortunately they have a tendency to artificially age it by soaking oak chips in it to simulate ageing in oak barrels. I think this is the dirty wood taste you object to and it completely ruins the wine. By reading the label you can usually tell if it's been artificially aged (look for oak and wood) and avoid it. Also, in my experience, the reserva can be inferior to the normal wine, especially if it is more than a few years old.
 

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At a tasting, many years ago, the Spanish Agent ask if we could pick out any particular characteristic. One was a bit young and thin. But I commented, Violets, almost Palmer - like!

His response was, “The barrels it was aged in, were from Chateau Margaux!”

However, we went on to taste some much more mature Riojas, amongst many others - it was the Pre - Christmas tasting at Thomas Peatling.

I was passed a generous sample of something 20 odd years old.

I am not someone who spits. I limit my tastings to those I would probably like to cellar. However, I took a generous mouthful and almost immediately spat it out into the bucket - commenting, “Jesus, you’re agents for this estate?”

I cannot think of a worse wine. It made me very cautious about Rioja.

However, for our 25th wedding anniversary, we stayed at Houston House, just outside Edinburgh.

I took a 25 year old Dom Perignon, vintage ‘69, which seemed appropriate. However, the Sommelier offered a couple of bottles of old stock they were wanting to sell. £45 quid apiece as I recall, one to be served with our anniversary meal. They were both Vega Sicilia, vintage 1976.

Magnificent! Pomerol, Vieux Chateau Certan / l’ Evangile. I am not sure if Vega Sicilia qualifies as a Rioja - it came into being when French wine makers fled France during the Revolution, taking with them, cuttings of Classic French varieties

Whatever the truth, it was nectar.
 
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