Friday, October 31, 2014

The javelin fails

Château de Fesles Cabernet Franc "La Chapelle" Vieilles Vignes 2012
This was an attractive little wine. It is primary and fruit-forward now, though perhaps a bit reductive: blueberries, tobacco and a lovely fresh, leafy greenness. Fairly light in body but with ripe fruit. The acidity isn't terribly high, nor is it hugely tannic, yet somehow it seems to be perfectly moreish. Once the initial reduction disappeared with a bit of decanting this bottle disappeared quickly! Not bad and at just 13€ in Alko I'll probably buy it again.

Jaffelin Beaune 1er Cru Les Cent Vignes 2008
Yeah, this was ok. Jaffelin, as a part of Boisset, is a huge producer, but this really is ok. We shouldn't always have this instinctive hatred towards big producers. So it smells fine: nice beetroot aromas. It's fairly light but still has some intensity. It's an attractive little wine, but no more. So why is Alko asking 30€ for this? Halve it and I'm a fan

Xenesthis sp. blue and its first moult

My tiny Xenesthis sp. blue sling moulted last night. And I feel quite relieved. (S)he hadn't eaten for two weeks - which is pretty normal for tarantulas in pre-moult - but somewhat surprising for a sling for which I couldn't see your typical signs of pre-moult and one that had been a voracious eater before.

But as I got up this morning I saw her stretching her legs trying to maximise their size for when the chitin hardens. And there was her old skin right beside her. Before leaving to work I just looked to make sure that the old skin had separated completely and that she seemed to have all of her legs intact. It looked like a successful moult.

I must confess that I was a little bit nervous since this isn't a species I have met before. Nor have I taken care of such tiny slings before. And this is a relatively new species in the hobby and there isn't much info on it. But it is reputed to be a bit difficult. Some of the difficulty must arise from the contradictory information available on the species, especially when it comes to humidity. Some suggest keeping on the dry side, others humid. At least this particular sling seemed to thrive in a more humid environment (75-85%) and now has had one successful moult behind her. The problem is that others claim success with a drier environment and problems with such humidity as mine was. I guess simply more collective experiences must be documented before we can say for sure what is the best environment?

The good news is that c.24h after the moult, her temperament is back to normal. She is feisty, quick, and readily lifted her abdomen into the air when I opened the lid to retrieve her old skin. Xenesthis is a funny genus of tarantula in that they seem to raise their abdomens into the air in order to make themselves look bigger and scarier. Are there other tarantulas that do this instead of flicking hairs or rising into the threat position?

But for a tiny baby, about the size of the tip of my thumb, it is just super-cute to see this one raise its abdomen to look all big and grown-up and scary!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Vanilla Cola

pic by Abadia Retuerta
Abadía Retuerta Pago Garduña Syrah 2009
14,5% abv; VdT Castilla y León
Served blind I thought this tasted stereotypically of a self-consciously expensive wine in a big, heavy bottle that could be made anywhere and pretty much from any grape. And you know what? It was an expensive wine and the empty bottle weighed as much a full magnum usually does. Almost 100€. And that makes me sad. That's a lot to pay for vanilla cola.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Not perfect, but I didn't make a Douro, gloomy face drinking it

Picture by Ekowine
Casa dos Jordões Quinta da Esteveira Reserva 2010
Douro, Portugal
14% abv
Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz

Douro is not really a favourite region for me when it comes to table wines. I do love a wood-aged Port, however - one where the oxidative elements bring a bit of savoury character to the sweetness so a 20 or 30yo Tawny is just perfect. An aged Vintage Port is also always a treat. But it often seems to me that due to climate and land, perhaps in conjunction with wine making choices, Douro seems spectacularly ill-suited for making balanced dry reds.

But I was told that this was a pretty traditionalist producer: no new wood, wild yeasts and all that jazz. And since it was only c.15€ in Alko, I decided it might be worth trying despite my prejudices.

And it was ok. There is an abundance of ripe but kind of neutral fruit. It's neutral because the ripeness levels are rather stereotypically new worldish and then the differences between grapes tend to be lost. But the good news is that it isn't overly extracted and there remains a bit of structure from both tannins and acidity. It's ok. Definitely not a disaster; definitely not something that excites me. But since most people tolerate ripeness a bit better than I do (I seem to want everything lean, mean and green) I have no hesitation in saying that for a wine under 15€ in Alko, this is not bad. Go for it if you're more tolerant of ripeness than I am.

The prettiest Bumba

Spider taxonomy is driving me crazy! This pretty lady with her stunning purple legs used to be called Paraphysa pulcherrimaklaasi when I got her. Then it was changed to Phrixotrichus pulcherrimaklaasi. Then to Euathlus pulcherrimaklaasi. And that's how it stayed for so long that I finally thought things were settled.That is until a couple months ago when she changed genus once more to Maraca pulcherrimaklaasi. And now, only months later, it's happened again. So for now this is Bumba pulcherrimaklaasi. How many weeks until it jumps to yet another genus?

But whatever this is, it is IMO an uncommonly beautiful terrestrial. But I can't wait for DNA studies to become cheaper so we could finally make sense of taxonomy and spiders.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Xenesthis sp. blue

Xenesthis sp. Blue

(S)he is indifferent to the cricket. Up to a week ago (s)he ate with a ferocious appetite. I wonder if (s)he's in pre-moult (though it doesn't look like it to me!). The abdomen still seems healthy plump? So I shouldn't worry? But this is such a new species that I just don't know.

0.0.1. ls c. 2,5cm.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Janisson Baradon

Sari Wines recently listed a couple Janisson Baradon Champagnes on Alko's special order selection. I bought both to try.

The Extra Brut was just phenomenal. Apple aromas, pure, elegant, crisp, very dry but fleshy. Fantastic wine. The truly great wines don't need many words.

The Brut Tradition wasn't quite as interesting and our mistake was to open it after the Extra Brut. It seemed a bit sugary and simple in comparison. But after a few sips, once the memory of the Extra Brut disappeared, this also seemed wonderful. Despite a slight sweet touch it remains crisp and high in acidity.

Both are worth drinking, but if your tastes are like mine and you prefer austerity and purity then the Extra Brut is worth the extra price. It's c.5€ more but gave me a billion times the pleasure of the Brut Tradition. And considering that the Brut Tradition wasn't a bad Champagne in any way, that should give an idea about how great the Extra Brut is. And for a minimal further expense my advice is simply: buy.