Feb 072018

Grown in Kakheti (located in Easter Georgia), which produces 70% of all Georgian wine. Georgia is gaining more and more popularity due to the rise of artisan wines and the fact that majority of Georgian wines are still made using qvevri’s. Also, Georgia has recently been lauded for being the birthplace of wine making as archaeological remains suggest that as early as 6000 BC grape juice was being placed in kvevri’s, to ferment during the winter.

100% Sapiravi (means “dyed” in Georgian). Like Alicante Bouschet, it is teinturier with dark skin, dark flesh, and dark juice. WTF is a teinturier grape?

Sapiravi is the most widely planted red wine variety in the country. Due to the grape’s sapid tannin, marked acidity, and myriad characteristics such as black fruit, liquorice, chocolate, smoked meat, and savoury spice, it is extremely versatile and can be made into rosé, dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and fortified wines. A well-made, dry Saperavi wine is redolent of a mix between Blaufrankisch and Syrah.

Organic. Made in stainless steel tanks, not fined, unfiltered and low in sulfites.

Very inky wine. It is deeply hued rich red, dark cherry color. Aromas of berries in with dry plum, cherry and pepper. Full-bodied, tannic with chocolate bitterness and long fruity aftertaste.

A quick sniff gives the impression of tiramisu! Mocha and marzipan, spiced by pepper. A second, deeper sniff reveals plum, blackberry, black pepper, and earthy notes. The palate reflects the bouquet—fruit driven with traces of peppery and savory characteristics. An inky, deep red, almost opaque wine with huge body and texture. Structure and balance are precise, with medium-plus acidity, and powerful but ready tannins. A wine that has the potential for long cellaring. It tastes better with at least two hours of decanting prior to drinking.

 Posted by at 2:59 pm
Dec 192017

The vineyards of husband and wife team Stephen and Prue Henschke of Henschke Wines are found in the cool region of South Australia’s Eden Valley.

A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Franc, aged completely in French oak. 14.5% Alcohol

Stephen embraces traditional winemaking techniques along with more quality controlled approaches, while Prue focuses on sustainable viticulture, training techniques and trials with organic and biodynamic practices.

The 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Cyril Henschke boasts a dense ruby/purple color in addition to an elegant perfume of black fruits, loamy soil, and hints of mineral as well as spicy wood. It is medium to full-bodied, pure, layered, and impeccably made. The acidity is incredible for a 1999 vintage (tasted on 2017), giving it a refreshing and elegant quality to it.

 Posted by at 2:10 pm
Dec 192017

The Piccini family estate in Montalcino is on the south side of Brunello di Montalcino with 12ha of vineyards distributed between the northern area of Montosoli and southern area of Lavacchio. The vineyards on the NE have a NE exposure, with cooler medium temperatures imparting high acid which is vital for the classic long aging and storing of Brunello. The SW vineyards enjoy long exposure to sun and warm breezes from the coast which impart freshness and warm, fruit driven character.

100% Sangiovese, 14.5% Alcohol

Block harvesting, small lot vinification, severe barrel selection and intelligent blend of tradition and modern winemaking methods are at the heart of Piccini Brunello wines. Everything in Montalcino is about the slow passing of time. Brunello and Brunello Riserva undergo an average oak aging between 24 to 36 months. The wine from each plot of vineyard is processed and aged separately to allow monitoring the evolution of each separate lot.

The nose displays intense aromas of black cherries, licorice and nutmeg. This wine is well balanced with a fine tannic structure that is accentuated by typical Sangiovese acidity. It has a long and savory finish.

 Posted by at 2:00 pm
Aug 262017

Scotland, Aug 18 2017 – Aug 26 2017
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 Posted by at 3:35 pm
May 132017

Irpinia land owes its character to its unusual climate: thermic excursion between night and day which is ideal for the cultivation of the great Irpinia wines because it gives good point of maturation without altering the sugar levels. Soil is clay.

The grapes were harvested in the first half of November 2012

100% Aglianico, 13.5% Alcohol

Manual grape picking, after squeezing the must is put into stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature. Post fermentative maceration on the skins for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. The winemaker believes that good wine is born in the vineyard, and is opposed to excessive handling in cantinache at times, they distort the features. This Taurasi is a genuine and authentic expression of the plant.

On the notes the wine is full, with an intense bouquet of blackberry, plum, cherry, cacao and coffee notes. On the palate the wine is warm, dry, soft, with an elegant structure and great persistence that confirms and amplifies the olfactory sensations.

 Posted by at 12:56 pm
May 012017

I don’t remember if I flew Virgin Atlantic before, but aside from an annoying silver box that was installed on every isle seat on their plane that heavily invaded my personal leg space, the fight wasn’t too bad. The pilot got us to the Big Apple smoothly and ahead of time, the attendants were accommodating (and British! I still think Brits have the best customer service) and my meal was pleasantly edible. The entertainment system may have been a throwback to the 90’s, but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of my movie selection: “A Streetcat named Bob”.

We arrived in New York at noon. BabeDoll welcomed us in the arrivals hall with a smile on her face and immediately offered her condolences: apparently sometime while I was cruising at 30,000 feet, my dad’s brother passed away from heart failure 😢. Needless to say, hearing this caught me off guard and left me in a rather weird disposition, but I chose to bottle up any thoughts and emotions until I could properly and privately address them later on that day.

Babedoll drove us though the streets of Manhattan straight to our AirBnB in Union Square, and already the excitement of being back in one of my favourite cities in the world took hold of me. Our AirBnB was pretty good for the £107 per person/night price tag – it was clean, well equipped, centrally located and generously sized for 3 people. Sure the two bedrooms in the bottom floor could have doubled as sauna’s, but nothing that open windows and electric fans couldn’t fix. So we dropped of our suitcases in our respective bedrooms and immediately went for lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant called Mandolino Pizzeria. The Carbonara I had was tasty and authentically made with eggs and Guanciale (although the meat was probably 90% fat) and Maurice announced that his Pizza was a hit, so we were off to a good culinary start (Mattias did complain about his Risotto, but I expected no less from the Swede)!

After we popped across the street for a coffee at Everyman Espresso (a good albeit too fruity a coffee for the rather specific and particular tastebuds of Maurice Huellein and Liam Escario) and did a bit shopping for house provisions at our local Food Emporium grocery (where a carton of milk would set you back 5 bucks), we soaked in all that was New York by walking up Broadway all the way up to Times Square. It was the first time for the boys in New York, so I thought it only necessary for them to walk through the iconic streets of Broadway, Times Square and 5th Avenue and soak in all the neon lights along the way. After nearly two hours of walking, we took the tube back to Union Square and had wine and tapas at Mi Garba Tuscan Wine Bar (which had so much promise – if only all of their wines didn’t taste second rate).

Our first full day started with our hunt for the perfect coffee. Next on our list of local coffee shops to try was a place called “Think Coffee”, but it didn’t even warrant walking through the door as Maurice dismissed it immediately upon inspection through the glass window (“Not artisanal enough”, he said). So we settled for a nearby hole in the wall cafe called “Le Cafe Coffee”. Despite them being a specialist establishment, Maurice thought that this time his coffee was too strong/burnt and concluded we still didn’t strike coffee gold.

The day radiated with sun, so we decided to walk the high line – a 1.45 mile aerial greenway built on a disused New York railroad line. We walked through the whole elevated park, starting on West Side Yard on 34th, through Chelsea and ending in the Meatpacking district. A strategic place to finish our 1 hour walk, as the wonderful Chelsea Market – one of NYC’s best food markets – was located right there. We surveyed all the food options at the market and choose to eat at “Friedman’s Lunch” due to their tasty looking brunch menu. My plate was a feast for the eyes and tasted divine; definitely a place to come back to. We then walked through Bleeker Street (Greenwich Village), Nolita, Litle Italy and then took the train to the South Ferry station where we took the Staten Island Ferry to see Lady Liberty. I think I got to appreciate how much nicer North of Little Italy (Nolita) is in comparison to Little Italy (which is more of a haven for tourists than anything authentic). We had dinner at Chefs Club – where the food and wine didn’t disappoint.

Monday morning. The search for our local coffee was a lost cause before we even took a sip of it: the barista thought a double espresso had three shots and that the beans where from upstate New York. Her incompetency aside, the coffee wasn’t bad, albeit a bit too smooth it bordered on boring. With caffeine pumping in our veins, we did a walking tour of the financial district with an energetic and enthusiastic guide called D, who spoke five languages and seemed to have either lived in or visited every country in the world. In three hours, he talked and walked us through Bowling Green, Battery Park, Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, St Paul’s Church and the 9/11 Memorial. I love walking tours – they give meaning to streets and buildings that would otherwise be just bricks and mortar.

After our lunch at Sweet Green, we walked across Brooklyn Bridge and explored DUMBO. I remembered DUMO being a lot more trendy and interesting, instead we failed to find anything worth being in DUMBO for so decided to break for an afternoon coffee at Bluestone Lane. One thing we did find though was amazing Pizza, as our dinner at Juliana’s Pizzeria revealed. Later that evening I went wine tasting at Campagnie des Vines, a wine bar that had a special tasting evening where a collector showcased several of his French and Californian wines from his cellar. Of the ten wines that I tasted, I thought that only two were good. The rest were either past its best, off or uninteresting. The wines in New York weren’t rocking my world so far.

Tuesday was a gloomy day in more ways than one. I started the day with a trip to my local Cooper USPS branch to pick up the Star Wars items I ordered from eBay and chose to be held for pickup. When I got there though, it turned out they only had three of the six items I had ordered and the rest were marked as “Return to Sender” because the destination address that the AirBnB host gave me was (apparently) invalid. Moreover, they said there was no way for me to stop or intercept this as my items were all in a delivery van and wouldn’t pass through a sorting office until it gets back to my sender. Needless to say, that made me grumpy for the remainder of the day. If that wasn’t enough, it was also raining and I was starting to feel like I was developing a man-flu.

So I tried to cast the great disaster of my undelivered parcels aside and enjoy the day. We completely skipped our morning coffee ritual as Maurice lost faith in all our local café’s and took the subway to Central Station to visit NY’s most famous station and top up on our collection of selfies. We stumbled on a really nice market in the station that I hadn’t discovered before. It was stocked with lots of fresh bread, cheese, coffee, teas and cute little knick knacks. After taking in all that we could, we got our morning fix of caffeine (Maurice was livid with the fact that his has way too much milk) and proceeded to the Met Museum.

We all made a generous donation of $1 to the Museum and spent most of our time at the Egyptian exhibition. It’s a massive museum, and I had no intention really of seeing much more than this in fear of my brain exploding from information overload (that and I was still annoyed that my Star Wars parcels were returned to sender so wasn’t all in the present moment). By 4pm we saw enough and decided to go home to change into our jackets for our night of jazz at the Blue Note. I got an alert just as we were heading home that my three missing packages had just arrived at the Copper USPS branch (they must have seen my request for these to be held there when trying to locate the address of the sender to send it back to). Needless to say, I popped into the post office for the third time that day to see if they had in fact arrived there AND THEY HAD! So the world wasn’t going to end and I could finally enjoy the rest of my day. Happy times!!!


We suited and booted, took a cab to the Blue Note as it was raining fat cats and hot dogs, had a quick dinner at a little Asian rice bowl restaurant near the venue and spent the rest o the night listening to the fabulous Duke Ellington Orchestra.


We thought we would do a bit of shopping on Wednesday so I started the morning with a trip down to the nearest TK Maxx (called TJ Maxx in America) to check out their suitcases. The last time I was in New York, I saw a great suitcase somewhere in Nolita/Soho for around $50 and regretted not buying it, so I was on a mission to get one this time around. I got the tip from Maurice to look in TK Maxx as they stock quality suitcases in rock bottom prices, and after visiting the branch near Union Square I doubted I would find a better value one anywhere else in Manhattan. Happy with my find, I hopped on the next A-Train to Nolita where I met Maurice and Mattias for a bit of a wander and window shopping around the area. We went to a designer belt store I read about online where they make custom belts to suit the modern man. Lo and behold, after only 10 minutes of walking into the store, Maurice walked out with a new brown leather belt from Milan and a broad smile on his face (because “You’re never fully dressed without a smile”).

That must have been enough shopping for us because we wasted no more time and decided to visit the Nintendo store near Times Square – where people queue from 11 o’clock in the morning in hope to get their hands on a Nintendo Switch when they go on Sale in store at 3pm! I had half considered buying a Switch in the US to avail of the £50 cheaper price tag, but quickly abandoned the idea in lieu of the queues and the fact that the warranty on their units don’t extend to Europe. So instead, we walked passed the overpriced Nintendo merchandise and tried out all the Switch games that were available to play (which also reinforced the fact that I shouldn’t buy a Switch yet as I still haven’t played a game on their console that I like).

We had Lunch at Urban Space Market (next to Grand Central Station) and ate some extra-sweet cookies from a speciality cookie store called Schmackary’s (which Maurice proclaimed had nothing on his grandmothers cookies). We then popped into the two story Midtown Comic Store where I bought the first volume of the latest Superman reboot, swung by the New York Pubic Library to re-live the Ghostbusters opening scene and jumped on the subway to get to our Mets game in the evening. It was about 10 years since the last time I saw a baseball game in New York (the Yankees with my sis), and I almost forgot just how boring the game was. We left after 7 innings when the Mets where down 6 to 1 and the last exciting thing that happened in 30 minutes were the ground staff firing free t-shirts into the audience..


The next day, my man flu was out in full force. I picked up a Green Ginger Nurse smoothie on the way to Honey House, the latest café that took the lead in Maurice’s hunt for the perfect cup of coffee (not a difficult feat considering the previous contenders). We then thought we’d take in a bit more culture and headed to the Natural History museum to check out the planetarium and dinosaur exhibition (which were both fabulous). The dinosaur fossil collection boasts to be one of the greatest in the world – and I definitely haven’t seen a better one myself!

You can’t visit New York and not have any bagels, so our next stop was to visit Cafe Lalo just around the corner to have some. It was my third time there and I think I’ll venture somewhere new next time. It wasn’t that my salmon and creme cheese bagel wasn’t delicious, only that I think I’ve milked that café enough for a while. And despite all of us being full from our lunch, we still trekked 10 blocks south to try the famous cookies from Le Vain bakery – a recommendation from Babedoll and acclaimed all over Manhattan as the best cookies in town (and definitely one of the best cookies I tried anyway).

That evening, we had an appointment to go up to the One World Observatory and thought we’d also visit the Rainbow Room after for a cocktail. So our first order of business was to go home to dress to impress and then we made our way to the financial district. When we got to the building though, we were told that there was Zero visibility on the top so we changed our tickets for the next day. We wondered what to do next, and having dressed for the occasion, we hopelessly thought that the Rainbow Room (being 40 stories lower) would have good visibility and made our way back up to Times Square. After a great meal in Aria Wine Bar in Hells Kitchen, we went to the Rainbow Room, only to find that it was closed for a special function (and overheard that there was 0 visibility anyway). So, we decided to spend the rest of the evening having a couple of drinks in a bar back in hells kitchen.

Friday brought the Sun and 26 degrees of lovely warmth – a great day for cycling around Central Park. So after buying my Saturday matinee Groundhog day tickets at TKTS early in the morning, I met the boys in a bike rental shop near the park and spent the next three hours cycling around the park and basking in the good weather. And, to add to the already great day we were having, we found our diamond in the rough of a coffee shop near 72nd station (a tiny cafe called Box Kite Coffee). So great coffee does exist in NYC and we found it! Readers take note.

The day ended with the beautiful views from the one world observatory, followed by tapas and wine at Amada.

Last day in New York 😟… I tried to pack in (pun unintended) as much as I could so I started the day picking up my suitcase from TJ Maxx and lovingly ensuring all my Star Wars toys were protectively packed for the long journey home. We then met Babedoll and her boyfriend at Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen for lunch and to say farewell. Not the best market in town, but it was near the theatre where Groundhog Day was being run so it worked well for me.

I loved the show!!! The whole production was done in such a creative and artistic way (reminded me of how they did ‘An American in Paris’), the lead was excellent (think of a cross between a sarcastic Jim Carrey and a baritone singer) and I thought the show was well written/directed. It’s shows like these that make me want to see a musical every month… something I always intend to do in London but never quite get around to doing as often as I’d like. Note to self: get better at this!

And, following a great Broadway musical to see me off, it was time to head back to London so Maurice, Mattias and I picked up at the flat and, after a series of rather stressful and unfortunate events that involved switching to the wrong train and trying to re-route via trains that were closed due weekend works, we arrived at JFK airport and made our way home. Two small bottles of Malbec to go with my beef bourguignon is all that it took to wipe me out for most of the flight.

I, and my Star Wars toys, arrived safe and sound back in London. I’ve said it every time I visited New York and I’ll say it again, see you soon!

 Posted by at 10:47 am
Apr 182017

Clare and I flew Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi on the remarkable aircraft that is the Airbus A380. You’d be hard pressed to find a more spacious, comfortable and smooth-flying plane. And despite the grumpy airline staff, it was a very pleasant flight; I had no problems passing the 7 hours and 20 minutes by reading “Secrets of the Sommelier” (a book that Clare’s mom gave me for Christmas) and watching La la Land (which, Emma Stone’s dancing aside, was a pretty solid movie).

Our plane landed in Abu Dhabi at 1:20am and we were welcomed by Katherine, Brian and Daniel. We picked up our rental car at the airport, drove home and proceeded to the first main order of business for that day: sleep. Following a good nights rest, we decided to spend the rest of the day relaxing at The Club – where we got a one week membership, had a green smoothie and tuna salad for lunch, laid in the sun and swam in the sea!

The beach of the Club was a bit different to the beaches back home: the ocean views were largely filled with telephone dishes and Skyscrapers on the islands across the way, the visibility underwater was close to zero and the swimming space wasn’t much longer than the the pool in my local gym. But I was happy to just being at the sea and lying in the sun that I didn’t mind at all. In fact, The Club was such a lovely and relaxing oasis for Clare and I that we went there almost every day of our trip!

Sunset was enjoyed with gin cocktails at The Shore and dinner was with the family in the club’s fine dining restaurant called “The Vista”, where I was treated to an absolutely amazing “Pan Fried Goose Liver Flamed in Armagnac” starter and a “Slow Cooked Wagyu Beef Brisket with poached Omani Lobster Medallions” main (the lobster may have tasted like it was frozen beforehand and the wagyu beef was drowning in red wine sauce – but for desert food it was still top class).

The next day we got up at the crack of dawn to go kayaking through the protected Mangrove National Park. Our tour guide was a friendly Filipino from Ilo-Ilo who helped us spot purple crabs roaming the banks, blue crabs swimming underwater and grey herons feeding on the shore. As we kayaked through the mangroves, he told us how 70 percent of the Arab Gulf’s fish species spend the beginning of their lives sheltering in the mangroves and also how the mangroves are endangered due to dredging and the increasing levels of salinity in the local waters. After a couple of hours of paddling our little morning excursion came to an end, so we went to the Club for a much needed (second) breakfast and a bit of R&R by the sea.

Around 2pm, we started feeling a bit peckish so we decided to go to the Mina Fish Market at Zayed Port for lunch, a recommendation from our tour guide earlier as a place to have great fresh fish. And boy were we in for a treat! We roamed through the myriad of fish stalls – trying to find which vendor had the freshest fish at the best prices – and brought our selection of tiger prawns, sea bream and kingfisher to a popular looking griller to be cooked. It was delicious! The marinade on our food was moorish and everything was grilled to perfection. We had a feast and it only cost us about £7.50 each. What a treat!

Going from one extreme to the other, we jumped in the car and drove to the Emirates Palace, a luxury hotel currently ranked as the second most expensive hotel to be built in the word (at £1.9 billion). We were welcomed with the melodic tones of a traditional three-piece band playing classical Arabic music while we soaked in all the opulence around us: oversized floral arrangements, antique styled furniture and old-world class with a mix of gold and neutral hues. It was here where we had the Palace Cappuccino – coffee that was sprinkled with flakes of 24-Carat gold! Putting aside that it costs £12 a cup and that I don’t really care much for cappuccino’s, I’m glad Clare convinced me to partake in the unforgettable experience of drinking 24-Carat gold coffee in such a luxurious setting.

That evening we had dinner in the house. Clare’s dad cooked Lamb and served us a 1996 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. It was 6 years past its best and any sign of primary fruit was long gone. Nonetheless, I did heavily appreciate the gesture of him opening such an old bottle in my company.

The next day we went to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the morning in time for the 11am Free Tour. Probably with no thanks to drinking wine the previous night and then heading out in the morning without anything to eat or much to drink, Clare felt rather unwell that day. We powered through the 1-hour tour anyway, marvelling at what is probably the most beautiful mosque I’ve ever seen. They say after seeing the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, you don’t need to see the Taj Mahal in New Delhi. Being that I don’t have a burning desire to rush to India for my next holiday, this saying works well for me! Anyway, among the many highlights of the tour was seeing the world’s largest and looking up at the word’s second-largest (but ugliest?) chandelier (made in Germany with thousands of Swarovski crystals from Austria and glasswork from Italy). hand-knotted carpet (designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi and hand crafted by 1,300 artisans)

After the tour finished, Clare had a bowl of granola and a fruit smoothie to revive her spirits. We sat down for a while until some energy developed within her, and then we went to the Central Souk Market, which was more of a high-end shopping mall selling Arabic clothes and merchandise than the traditional bazars that conjure in the mind when one hears the word “Souk”. We also visited the Iranian Market in Port Zayed (which had more similarities to a 99p store than anything else ). Being conveniently around our favourite hangout, we went to The Club (can’t go through a day without a visit to the Club!) for the usual beach & tanning combo.

We listened to live Jazz at The Shore that evening. The girls had free bottomless vodka cocktails and I sipped on a gin tonic while the band played standards from Miles Davis to Chet Baker.

Later that evening, we went with Daniel to a jewellery store in the centre to pick up his engagement ring for Siobhan. I entertained myself by learning about all the nuances when it comes to the 4 C’s of diamonds (Color, Clarity, Carat and Cut). Some of the differences are hardly noticeable to the naked eye but have such an impact on price that it begs to ask: who really cares if it’s a VVS1 instead of a VS2 if the difference can cost you your child’s education?

Following her feeling unwell the day before, Clare had a much needed lie in on Thursday morning and we didn’t leave the house until about noon. Destination? The Club!!! (where else?)

We arrived just time for lunch, so we quickly made our way to the pool where I had a South Indian Fish and Green Mango Salad and Clare had one of her favourite comfort foods: fried rice. I then laid on the beach for the next two hours, determined to turn as brown as the Arabs that travelled the desert, and did a few laps in the sea. We then made our way to the pickup point for our desert safari excursion, where we were collected at 5:15 and driven for an hour to a section of Abu Dhabi that was rich in dunes and home to an Arabic camp.

Clare, Brian, myself and a British girl were transferred to a 4×4 car for our dune bashing ride. It was my first time and I thought it was friggin awesome! Bit like being in a 4×4 rollercoaster ride on the dunes with a Fast and Furios driver (who we quickly deduced was dating the British girl. The definite give away was him playing Lionel Richie when he took her for a solo ride on the dunes).

When we arrived at the camp, Clare and Brian went Camel riding and I went sand boarding. A buffet dinner followed. I smoked a shisha pipe and drank Arabic tea, and we danced the night away!

Friday was the start of a brunch that lasted two days… Following our jaunt to The Club for a morning swim to build up an appetite, we went to Ritz Carlton to partake in their famous Friday brunch. We got there and I quickly sussed out what to drink and eat: the Cabernet Sauvignon was surprisingly good for a buffet wine and the crab was delicious, along with the salmon with truffle tartare, wagyu beef, foie and pork belly.

Unfortunately, sometime in between eating one of my desert plates and sipping on my coffee, my brain quickly shut down and all my body could do was throw up. Memories of the rest of the afternoon are minimal, but they mostly include: throwing up in the restaurant toilet, Clare calling out my name in the toilet after I was in there for apparently half an hour, sitting outside with my head over my shoulders while the McAndrew clan chatted away, walking to a bar where I didn’t actually make it to the table as I felt more comfortable perched on a deck near their bathroom, using their bathroom and then jumping on a cab to go home. And somewhere amidst all that, I managed to lose the spare house keys that were in my left jeans pocket.

I didn’t manage to contribute very much when all that started other than “I’ve been poisoned” – which funnily enough turned out to be true. I probably won’t be having crab again for a while (which I’ve identified as the culprit as one of them tasted highly suspicious when I bit into it… twice)!

The next day we were meant to go to Dubai, but I was still recovering from food poisoning and in no condition to do very much. So we just went to the club to get out and get some fresh air. I just laid in the sun for a while and we went home where Brian kindly prepared something simple for dinner (and for my ailing belly): roast chicken.

On our last full day, we went to Dubai. It took a bit longer than expected as the GPS had maps from a time long gone, so it took us down strange roads that led to strange places. But we got there eventually. We visited the Dubai Mall (the largest mall in the world) that stands right across the Burj Khalifa. The Dubai Mall was a large yes, but still nothing more than a mall. The main reason why we wanted to visit it though was to see the massive aquarium inside that spans two floors and is home to sharks, manta says and all sorts of marine life.  I thought the descriptions of it were a little too exaggerated and wasn’t massively impressed, so Clare and I didn’t waste any more time in the mall other than to feed ourself in the food court and moved on.

Using our reliable GPS, we took a 1 hour drive (instead of what should have 20 minutes) to the historical district of Dubai. We visited the Gold Souk where Clare was in a spell under all the gold bracelets and earrings, and rode a water taxi across to the other side. As a whole, Clare and I thought Dubai was too stressful (traffic was a nightmare) and ugly (I thought it would have pretty skyscrapers like Hong Hong but nearly all of them looked to be built for function more than aesthetics), BUT at least she found 2 camel stuffed toys to bring back home for only 25 dirhams. We drove back to Abu Dhabi and brought dinner from the Mina Fish Market. We celebrated your last meal with NyeTimber Champagne and an Australian Syrah.

We left the house at 6:15am on Monday morning for our flight back home. It was nice arriving back in London early that day… it gave us lots of time to unpack, grab some dinner and sleep the night away.

 Posted by at 10:44 am
Apr 172017

On The TownAbu Dhabi, April 09 2017 – April 17 2017
My first experience in the United Arab Emirates was unexpectedly fun and educational! I previously thought that Abu Dhabi and Dubai would be like twin cities, but it turns out that there’s a world of difference between them. I also learned that Abu Dhabi is only one of the seven emirates in the UAE (the other six are Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm AlQuain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujeriah). It’s also the capital of the UAE, the largest emirate and the one that has the most oil reserves – projected to last through 2100 and even beyond (the UAE as a whole is the 4th largest oil producer in OPEC behind Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela). Read more….

 Posted by at 10:32 am
Mar 302017

The fruit comes from the clay rich hillside Raupo Creek vineyard, which has a gentle north-west facing aspect settled in the centre of the Omaka Valley. Each vine is thinned to carry one bunch per shoot.

2012 was a cool year. However, it started in ordinary fashion with a fine spring and even flowering and fruit-set. There was some rain at Christmas, though not enough to cause trouble, but temperatures never really lifted and the sun rarely showed her face. Consequently, the ripening was slow and harvest late with low yields.

100% Pinot Noir, 13.5% Alcohol, <1 g/l RS, 5.3 g/L acidity VINIFICATION Fruit was hand-sorted, destemmed and cooled. After pre-fermentation steeping, the juice was warmed and fermented with wild yeast, and the caps hand-plunged daily during fermentation. The wine was left on skins for 2 weeks of post-ferment maceration, then drained, lightly pressed and transferred to French oak barriques, of which 26% were new. The wine went through natural malolactic fermentation during 15 months maturation, before it was bottled unfiltered and unfined. TASTING NOTES The nose exhibits notes of ripe dark berry fruit, alongside hints of savoury forest floor, rosemary and leather. The palate is concentrated, with deep earth, spice and hedgerow fruit characters, framed by fine, well-integrated tannins and a persistent, fresh finish.

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