Stuart George

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Baba’s word

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Last Friday (16 July) my friend (of a friend) Jaana invited me and a a few other lucky guests to her cavernous Holland Park flat for a “private preview.”

We were treated to a pre-Edinburgh performance by Jaana’s “houseguest” Baba Brinkman, a likeable Canadian scholar and, latterly, rapper.

Baba does rap versions of Eng Lit classics such as Beowulf, the Canterbury Tales and the Finnish epic Kalevala – surely a nod to his hostess!

The gruesome violence of Beowulf fits snugly into rap culture. Chaucer’s rhyming couplets also lend themselves to rap, though Baba updates the poet’s 14th century Middle English to make it understandable to those that prowl South London wearing headphones!

Baba will be performing “The Rap Guide to Human Nature” – his amusing take on psychology and other things – in Edinburgh throughout August. More details at Baba’s website.

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16 Popes: Château Pape Clément 2006–1947

In Tastings on July 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm

On 6 July, my friend Linden Wilkie very generously invited me to his tasting of 16 vintages of Château Pape Clément, spanning 2006 to 1947.

I have been to Pape Clément only once but I have met its owner Bernard Magrez several times. I was seated next to him at a lunch that he hosted at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at The Dorchester a couple of years ago. There was a remarkably high turnout for that tasting and lunch by my wine writing colleagues!

Linden’s tasting showed how M Magrez has pursued a modern, extracted style of wine in recent years. The 2006, 2005 and 2003 vintages were rather oak-dry to my palate, though doubtless this style appeals to many people. The 2000 was oxidised, which is unacceptable at this level.

The ’98 was excellent, as was a La Mission Haut-Brion tasted in Hong Kong recently. These two prove how Graves vintages often follow the Right Bank in exceptional years.

I preferred the verve and flow of the 1996 over the more sullen 1995. The “decadent” 1990 was a popular choice by my fellow tasters but I found it too wayward and dirty – a very impertinent 20-year old.

The 1971 smelled like old claret from an indifferent vintage – which is to say, not particularly appealing. The 1961 was very good, though as is often the case – Haut-Bailly, for example – it captured the richness of the vintage rather than the estate’s terroir.

A magnum of the 1950 was awful, fractured and decrepit. A pity.

The 1947, however, was a lovely old wine, still articulate but so tertiary that it was unrecognisable as Pape Clément. Like the 1961, it was representative of its ripe, rich vintage. Drink up.

Bordeaux 2009 encore

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Berry Bros. & Rudd’s 2009 Bordeaux en primeur tasting on 5 July at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London – not as grand as it sounds, actually – gave a few wine hacks – and a lot of Berry’s clients – a chance to have a look at samples from over 20 leading estates.

The first wine was Angélus, a wine that I usually find impressive rather than drinkable. True to form, it was massively concentrated with a nice texture. But it was just too damn big for me to drink with pleasure. I would not pay £2,400 ex-cellars for that or indeed any other wine. But Beau-Site was well-priced at £168, as was Camensac at £180. Those are journalist rather than oligarch prices!

Léoville-Barton was just as good as when I tasted it in March – a wonderful wine.

The room was warm when I arrived, well before the influx of several hundred BBR punters. The poor, or rather not so poor, winemakers were likely to be as well-cooked as an entrecôte bordelaise by the end of the evening. Christian Dauriac, the owner of Château Clémence, complained to me that his wines were too warm. He had a point: they were very stewed, which in fairness to him I would put down to the heat rather than a bad wine.

On the whole, the 2009s showed sweet, luscious fruit and velvety tannins with, crucially, great freshness. It is this fraîcheur that distinguishes these wines. The 2006s that were shown alongside the 2009 échantillons tasted crude by comparison. Nearly all the 2009s, even at cru bourgeois level, need a good ten years to show, or at least begin to show, their quality.

I complimented the delightful Véronique Sanders of Château Haut-Bailly on her wine but told her that I wasn’t so keen on the price. She told me that she has 8,000 cases of her red wine to sell and “we could have sold three times the crop… It is all about demand and offer.” I suppose Haut-Bailly is reasonable at £600 but I preferred its Graves neighbour Domaine de Chevalier at £552.

With increasing interest from Asia and elsewhere in fine wine, there is only one way for prices to go. Who wouldn’t like to be the owner of a good Bordeaux wine estate these days?

Free tickets for Pakistan vs. Australia at Headingley!

In Cricket on July 7, 2010 at 9:54 am

I have two tickets per day for Pakistan vs Australia at Headingley in Leeds on 21 July and 24 July.

I won the tickets in an MCC ballot but it now turns out that I’m unable to go.

If anybody would like these tickets  – free of charge – please contact me via this site.