It has been brought to my attention that my last two ‘reviews’ veered quickly away from meaningful critique and seemed more preoccupied with my own general malaise. Do please allow me to make recompense with this humble submission.
France is a country, known for many years as a producer of wines such as red and white. The best bottle of French wine I ever had came from a petrol station just outside of Paris. Everything since then has been a disappointment – but let’s try to just stick with wine for now.
An old French friend once taught me that the quality of a bottle is related to how far you can stick your finger into the bottom. True or not, I still use that as an indicator to this day. In retrospect she was probably just flirting with me.
Speaking of youthful infatuation, there were a couple kissing in the supermarket earlier – a tender yet cheeky smooch with all the joy of a new delight snatched from the jaws of fate. It was only after having reached past them to get at the booze that I realised I hadn’t seen anything quite like it in close to two years. Everything was covered faces in public spaces, while outdoors we remained apart and coiled.
How many brains remain two metres apart, holes covered, distant behind a perspex screen? Remember when they told us to wash our hands while singing Happy Birthday because we’re fucking idiots who can’t count to twenty without key jangling us back on task so we don’t wander off or eat the soap?
Sure, your experience of the lockdowns may have been different where you are – they may even still be ongoing – but round here, supermarket displays of affection have been rather thin on the ground. It was heartening, it proves love is still alive – and with love there is hope for the future.
Or maybe they’ll both be dead within 28 days of a positive test.
Anyway, I left the last best hope for romance to it and took my wine home, opened it, decanted, and poured a glass.
What was I just saying about hope for the future? Well the miserable have no medicine but only hope and there’s always hope in a bottle of Pinot Noir – or at least I thought. I’ve found some really lovely Pinot Noirs during lockdown but this one from Le Manoir Du Baron simply makes me wish I had Covid so I wouldn’t have to taste it.
I could’ve spent some time making that joke funnier but fuck it, the wine doesn’t deserve it. There is no hope here, just a timid flat fly-catcher that tastes like a mouth rinse following a fuller example and then, oh God, there’s aftertaste and I’m cringing into the same face the dog makes when he’s getting peanut butter off the roof of his mouth. No kick either. Putain de merde indeed.
And then I have another sip of this barren manor and it’s about as romantic as pissing kurva in the snow. ‘Makes a great match to duck, roast pork or Oriental dishes.’ Sure, whatever you say, Emmanuel.
I could be doing a cooking show on YouTube. Remember in the height of lockdown when we were baking our own bread and thinking about getting into wood turning? The plague turned many into trad spouse pretenders; I don’t know what that says about us but I still want to build a lute for a woman who knits me a jacket out of cat wool.
It’s around this time a man must turn to himself and quite reasonably ask what the hell he’s doing with the days he has left. My content is incontinent, I realise that. All I know is that those whisky reviews turned me off whisky pretty much completely. If the vaccine had taken a little longer I was going to start alien abduction movie reviews.
But going back to cookery, the trouble is I went off artisanal-retentive posh grub for twats about the same time I watched my head chef cutting live crabs in half with an exuberance I’ve not seen since I ran into a schoolmate burning ants behind the library. I’m a fan of unpretentious, economical, simply tasty food. The first taste may be with the eyes but the second is with the tongue – and I don’t want twigs and offal dust on my plate, thank you very much.
But you can’t just sit writing a book any more. You need other outlets, especially when said book is a hot mess. Oh fuck, I forgot we’re reviewing wine, aren’t we?
For comparison to the French, I’ve got here a bog standard Cimarosa 2020 Chilean Pinot Noir from Lidl. It’s not great on the nose or the tongue. But to grab for four quid it’s way above some of the swill you’ll get in the corner shop or garage.
Before I forget, on the subject of alien abductions, thinking that the traditional old world regions are the best place to get wine is like thinking that only Americans have close encounters. Get yourself a good Malborough Pinot Noir and you’ll down it quicker than a luminous object downs a hostile Iranian F-14.
Have you wondered about when shops will ban masks?
Before the pandemic, the Spar round the corner from here used to have a sign telling us to take off our headwear inside so they could identify the little oiks shoplifting and otherwise kicking off. During, there was a face covering mandate, same as everywhere. These days there’s a sign asking us to consider others or whatever but you look through the window and none of the staff have a mask, none of the people do. I’ll still wear one out of politeness or pantomime but that ship has pretty much sailed in the UK.
It’s just a thought. My point being that maybe I can’t get away with wearing a motorcycle helmet in the bank but if I cough a bit and wear a facemask, who fancies meeting up for a cheeky Rioja someplace in Andalusia?
Spar means save in Scandinavian and German but it’s a Dutch company where spruce tree means pay more. I was idly browsing there earlier and happened upon a Pinot Noir by the name Wildflower. Best so far today. It’s very light but there’s pleasant stuff going on that doesn’t taste like you’re sucking acid out of an electric donkey.
Guess where it comes from? Romania. You beautiful bastards, you’ve redeemed yourselves.
But I digress. Today is supposed to be about French wine, right? I keep getting distracted. Lidl sell a Château Chante Mistral. It’s a Lirac wine from the Rhône region, which means little to me other than reminding me of often awful petrol station Côtes du Rhône. Which isn’t to be snobby about petrol station wine – as I mentioned at the beginning, the best bottle of French wine I ever tasted was from a petrol station.
If you held a gun to my head I’d tell you to go fuck your whore mother but if you’d just like to know my favourite French wine I’d probably say I’m a Châteauneuf du Pape man myself but for that money I’d much rather have a lovely Amarone. We can talk about that some other time.
This one here, this Lirac, is fruity with little of the bad taste you’d associate with cheap French wine. I’m not really enjoying it though and my head is a bit rough, muddled with a dry tannin mouth. At £7 it falls in the cheapest bottle on the menu territory but for that you can get something fuller bodied and fruitier from the new world.
I’m sorry but it’s just middling. A bit half arsed. A bit like this review, but as they say in Paris: Ta mère, par derrière, sur la terre.