Andy McMaster with his "someone deserves a Patton the back" remark - anyone have anything better than that?
My family gathered to wet Monty's arrival yesterday. As always with a family gathering, wine was in abundance (and increasing it feels like it's always me that provides it!). I decided to pass on Monty's Kiwi heritage and instead return to the wines that I acquired when I was married. The Kiwi, then my fiancee agreed that we could have our wedding list with London wine merchants Berry Brothers & Rudd, but she then went off and openened a rival list at John Lewis. Naturally she told all her friends and family to buy from the John Lewis list, so leaving only my true pals buying from the BBR list. But my pals did good and picked out some stunning items (things like Ridge's Montebello and Sassicaia from Tuscany which still lurk at the back of the cellar) as well as several cases of other stuff that, after 3 years, are getting close to peak drinking. So tonight's wine was largely from the Wedding list (or at least wine that we were given as a result of getting married). A selection is in the photo.
My father bought us a case of Verve Cliquot "La Grande Dame" 1998, a rose champagne which is still just holding up. I thought it might have been on the turn, but there was still complexity there, if a little loss of fruit. The wedding list produced two cases of claret, one of which was the 2005 vintage of "Les Tourelles de Longueville", which is the second wine of Chateau Pichon-Baron in Pauillac (a second growth in the Bordeaux rankings). It's drinking very well, probably not for keeping much longer; a lovely merlot-dominated wine. Before that we had some chenin blanc from Morgenhof in South Africa. Morgenhof was one of the 30-odd South African wineries we visited during our honeymoon in 2009, and I've followed their wines ever since. I think South African wines generally are still much under-appreciated. The quality is getting better every year and the wines are now very good value. The reds perhaps still often suffer from that "burnt rubber" issue that people argue about, but the whites are really quite good. Chenin blanc used to be SA's signature white grape variety, nowadays considered a work-a-day variety that s overshadowed by sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. However, the best SA chenins are fantastic and this one by Morgenhof is well worth trying (it's about £10). I thought it was like a more subtle Rhone viognier, lots of apples and peaches and very fresh. Incidentally, if anyone's interested in South African wines, I listed my favourites from our honeymoon here.