Aberlour a Go-go

Another entertaining tasting at the Bothy, this time, a Sunday afternoon whisky school, with some very interesting food matching going on.

Dalwhinnie 15yo was rather excellent tasted with honeycomb nougat. Ardbeg 10yo went surprisingly well with a mildish remoulade; the horseradish wasn't overly fiery, and the creamy dressing pulled everything together nicely. But the culinary star of the day was Aberlour A'Bunadh batch 31.

A'Bunadh is a true sherry monster, in the best way possible. This batch seems particularly wine-y and fresh - it reminds you that sherry is a wine, and sometimes a rather fruity one. But more than that, and always, A'Bunadh tastes of cherries; sweet red cherries, not the black ones.

So served with a big fat cherry that had been dipped in dark chocolate, the Aberlour was very heaven (very heaven = 5).


Trifecta, apparently

Or what you or I might call a Rhône blend, but to be fair, the quality of the wine is sufficiently high to bear such high-flown winemaker's language.

I'm talking about the McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos Red 2007, a Western Australian blend of Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro. It smells like fruit leather, or even fruity leather - really concentrated fruit juice, but with something deeper to back it up. The palate is dry, mid to full bodied and noticeably spicy. This spiciness grows stronger, so that after a few minutes you have a rather delicious mix of dark fruit purée and chilli, with subtle, but grippy, tannins. After being open for a few hours the chili pepper calmed down and the wine was much more balanced, reminding me of Priorat somewhat.

It really is very very moreish indeed, which is a definite good thing. Lately most of the new world reds I've tried have been hard work, what with their biting youthful acidity and overly concentrated fruit, but 3 Amigos is much more civilised, a very tasty 4+.

Three cheers for 3 Amigos, and a fourth cheer for Margaret River.


Taleggio and Grappa

A man who knows about these things suggested to me that Taleggio ought to go well with Grappa. By a handy coincidence, I happened to have both these items to hand.

Now, Taleggio, (which I believe must be the Italian word for Athlete's Foot), is a washed rind cheese made in the region of Milan, and as is typical of such cheeses, the aroma is pretty powerful, sharp, and sweaty, while the taste is mild, very creamy, and nutty. With this particular sample I also noticed a wee fresh green note in the nose, celery or cucumber.

The Grappa, Brotto Grappa di Moscato d'Asti nelle Dolci Colline Astigiane, is made from grapes from hills rather to the West of Milan, but Brotto are based over to the East, in the Veneto. It's a lovely sweet Grappa, not aged, and thus perfectly clear and full of a fine blend of grapey perfume (from the Moscato), quintessence of bitter cloves, a new make spirit character (solvents, nail polish), and a generous dose of what I take to be tannins, from the grape skins and pips, finishing with a touch of camphor. An excellent 4.

Taken together, the sharpness of the cheese's aroma is balanced by the solvent character in the Grappa, and in turn the Grappa is softened by the cheese, so the combined taste is fantastic. But texturally they don't meet at all, remaining completely separate in the mouth. So for flavour, Grappa and Taleggio do very well, but texture lets them down: fairly good, 3+.