Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Damon diadema's dinner

The Damon diadema hunts by using its first pair of antennae-like legs to guide the cricket close enough to its pedipalps so that it can grab and restrain the prey while eating it. With its pedipalps already open and ready to strike, the cricket has about 0,01 seconds of life remaining.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Duc de Larsan Madiran 2011
14% abv; Tannat & Cabernet sauvignon; c.10€

Mr. Viinihullu told me I must try this. I trust him so I did - though I'm always worried when I see the words "eleve en fûts de chêne" on a label. And I'm always worried that a 10€ wine from Alko will usually be boring at best.

But this wasn't bad at all. The aromas are delightfully meaty and savoury and the oak isn't too obvious. Quite rich, but dry and savoury instead of oaky and/or sweet and fruity. It's correct and actually quite moreish.

No, you won't get the same sort of thrills as you get from a well-aged bottle of Bouscassé from the years before Brumont went berserk with new oak, but it is Madiran instead of just something technically correct but forgettable.


Suomenlinnan Panimo Foil Hat B Weisse
c.6€; 4,9% abv; flavoured with blackcurrant

Pink. Lactic/sour/earthy nose. I like funky wines and I like funky beers and this is kind of funky though not really beery nor terribly winey. Light in body, slightly sour, very moreish and refreshing.

This beer is kind of the sparkling version of one the best cheap wines I've ever had, Naudin-Ferrand's Bourgogne Rouge 2007 which was a gorgeous (illumi)naughty stink-fest. It was the sort of thing you read a tasting note on and would never want to put in your mouth - and that's a conspiracy by all of us who write notes because we don't want anyone else to ever try them so we can drink them all.

I wonder if a similar conspiracy is brewing with this beer since all comments I've seen on it have been negative? Put you Tin Foil Hat on because I think they're just trying to hide how good this stuff really is! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!!! This beer was brewed by the ancient Sumerians from a recipe given to them by our reptilian overlords who use the moon as their spaceship and who clandestinely run our world!!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Vajra Langhe Rosso 2012

G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 2012
Mainly Nebbiolo, Dolcetto & Barbera with small amounts of Albarossa, Freisa and Pinot noir; 13,5% abv; c.18€; stelvin

Vajra makes good, dependable wines that usually aren't the most exciting Piemontese wines (though a '01 Bricco delle Viole might belong to that category) but certainly aren't ones one should dismiss. So how is such a basic wine in their line-up?

Despite costing 18€ in Alko which is a bit steep for a basic wine, it's actually really attractive. Ready to drink now, though there doesn't seem to be a great hurry with it though the back label says to drink within three years. Simple but attractive aromas - not much more than cherry/general red fruit. But who cares if it's simple or one-dimensional when it's so pleasant. Quite fruity, soft tannins for a Nebbiolo-based wine, but crunchy and moreish and clean. This is a fun wine. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A rare occurrence of a Hemiptera on this blog

A Lygaeidae, probably some Spilostethus sp., Petra, Jordan.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Kir-Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro 2012

Kir-Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro 2012
c.20€; 14% abv; 100% Xinomavro; PDO Naoussa

Of the major autochthonous Greek grapes, Xinomavro has, from my limited sampling, been most to my taste. It has good structure and sometimes seems almost like Nebbiolo in its mix of tannin and bright red acidic berry fruit - though I've never had a Xinomavro as wonderfully aromatic as a Nebbiolo.

This Kir-Yianni is aged for 14 months in oak of which c.15% was new. And it does show a little bit. Not so much that most people will be bothered by it and not so much that it causes me great distress, but enough that I wish it had all been in old wood.

But other than that, it's a very tasty wine. Underneath that slightly woody patina there's a wonderful bright lingonberry aroma. The tart berry flavours follow logically on the palate: it is tannic and acidic and shrill in a good way. I like structured wines; just have some fatty food or red meat with it and it transforms beautifully. Despite the wood, it's tasty enough that I'm tempted to put away a bottle or three for some years.

Friday, January 29, 2016


I haven't attended many wine tastings proper in recent years. I prefer to drink more of a single good wine and to have less wines open at once - i.e. opening a nice bottle with dinner and just enjoying is what I prefer to the more analytical tasting situation. But I couldn't resist an invitation to try some Musar. Mostly they were vintages that I've had before but Musar is still always fun even when I know them well.

We started with a couple Jeunes. First the Jeune Rosé 2012 which was perfectly clean, perfectly drinkable and perfectly innocuous and vapid. The Jeune Red 2011 was just like that, too. Musar is odd in how their minor wines are so incredibly boring compared to the first wines (the very occasional Hochar Père & Fils excepted).

All pictures © SannaP
We then moved onto the rosé and whites. Hochars always suggest serving the whites after the reds since they are such weird, unique, rich whites and can easily overpower the reds, but I have stopped trying to persuade tastings to adopt this method since it's hopeless trying to get others interested in such an iconoclastic ordering of wines. And also, I'm not so sure it really matters all that much so I'm happy both ways.

Chateau Musar Rosé 2012
The youngest Musar rosé I've had. It smelled a bit confected and plastic and though it was dry and acidic and low in alcohol (11,5%) I wasn't terribly fond of it. But I'm pretty certain it's just due to age. These really blossom with lots of bottle age. I recently had my last 1995 - not many rosés last, much less improve, over 20 years. If I had any 2012 rosé, I'd probably bury it in the cellar and open one in maybe five years to see how it is.

Chateau Musar Blanc 2006
A very nice but not great white Musar. It has a very classic Musar profile of something fishy (and that's not a bad thing: fresh fish is actually a very pleasant aroma) and something like apricot or other sweet, sunny fruit. Relatively lighter body than the following whites and that brings the acidity more to the fore than is normal for white Musar which usually is not an acidic white but a rich one.

Chateau Musar Blanc 2001
A very exotic style of Musar with IIRC a long growing season and not super hot weather and the long hang-time resulted in a fragrant, funky, exotic wine that is rather like a grand Grand Cru Burgundy with age on it - except that this is young and much better than any Grand Cru Burgundy I've had (except for the 2001 DRC Montrachet :D ). Rich, concentrated but also extremely moreish. Awesome wine.

Chateau Musar Blanc 2000

Chateau Musar Blanc 1995
Now we get to an orange/honey coloured wine. And I must say that it is not as good a bottle as it should be: a white Musar this young shouldn't have a rye bread -like oxidation but should only be lightly oxidative. But despite the rye aroma, all else is as it should be: honey and richness and moreishness all in one. I actually really enjoyed it though it wasn't its usual good self. It's funny how even the not perfect bottles are still capable of charming you.

Chateau Musar Blanc 1991
1990 is the legendary white Musar of this period but this 1991 is really nice, too. It's kind of on the rich, exotic end of the white Musar spectrum, like the 2001. There is honey and and an almost botrytised aroma and great richness and sweetness to the fruit despite 25 years age. The colour may have turned orange but I still think there's no hurry at all if this is a representative bottle of how it's evolving. 

I really love the whites of Musar and have come to think of them as even greater than the great reds they make. But red flight was certainly not a chore
to get through. We opened all the '00s that have been released so far (afaik the '06 isn't released).

Chateau Musar Rouge 2008
Mildly corked.

Chateau Musar Rouge 2007
Not one of the best Musars, but I'm such a fan that even at their worst, Musars are still more interesting and fun than almost any other wines. So I did kind of enjoy this '07, too. It had all the correct aromas and it's only real problems
were that it just didn't have all the dimensions of the best Musars and it had a bit of harshness on the finish.

Chateau Musar Rouge 2005
Rich, ripe, big, open and wearing its heart on its sleeve. But it also had lovely levels of volatility and funk. It wasn't smelly, but it did bring a lovely savouriness to the whole. Big but perfectly balanced and fresh despite all the ripe fruit and surprisingly drinkable though very young.

Chateau Musar Rouge 2004
Never a truly great Musar, but always a fine little wine. But it seems safe and a bit flat after the gorgeous volatile 2005. Sweet and simple and very charming when you don't compare it to the great wines. Is the fanboi in me showing since I can't even damn a lesser year? :D

Chateau Musar Rouge 2003
A surprisingly tame showing: not much volatility or shite, but more like a sunny Southern Rhone. But I've recently started to appreciate Grenache a little bit so I didn't mind. Good stuff.

Chateau Musar Rouge 2002
It's a year I've always rather liked though not everyone shares my enthusiasm. It's a brighter, lighter less Rhoney year than the 2003 and just has a bit more shite and volatility and freshness. Yummy.

Chateau Musar Rouge 2001
But it's really the 2001 that was brilliantly expressive with plenty of ripeness, dung and volatility. It was kind of like the 2005 (though not as perfect). Gorgeous wine.

Chateau Musar Rouge 2000
Simple and sweet; not terribly volatile but with a nice touch of shite - not the obvious sort, but rather the sort where one takes a quick glance at the soles of one's feet to see if one has stepped in anything canine.