Don’t believe the hype!

Don’t believe the hype, or as J. J. Hunsecker once said to the young Sidney Falco, “Don’t kick away the gangplank unless you’re sure you don’t want to get back on board”

Well, after 159 days of quarantine down here, and still counting by the way, some of us are having serious doubts as to whether there was ever a gangplank in the first place, and secondly, if there was it seems to have been kicked away fairly and squarely by both the monstrous-media and their kiss-ass political chums. To hell with the lot of them I say. Most of us free-old-timer-work-from-homers never knew about the safety blanket in the first place. We free people, and it would appear that there are not many of us left, can make mistakes and willingly take some risks, in all their forms. This is the wine business and our livelihoods for goodness sake. If we hold politicians responsible for everything that goes wrong, of course, they will take away our liberties so that nothing can go wrong. And they will be doing this not for your or for our protection against the risk, but for their own protection against some dam criticism of this or of that.

Whether you are in London or in Buenos Aires, or for that matter in any other city, town or countryside in this beautiful world today, we have been deliberately pushed into the worst recession since the early 18th century, destroying millions of jobs and hundreds of thousands of businesses, piling up both public and private debt on a crippling scale and, of course, undermining the education of our children? Where are they all by the way? Where has the next generation gone to? and where has any good old common sense gone to? Well we managed to find some of the latter last week in the back of the cupboard here, and actually organised a super luncheon, along with a hosepipe full of wines, that made us forget all about the dam plague, the hyperinflation, children, the bills we cannot pay today, and this let us think about more important matters vinous, gastronomic, the subject of friendships and of life-giving forces.

Quite an eclectic mix as you can see from the photo. So as not to bore you to death by banging on about them, it could be an alternative of course, I will only mention the four vinous highlights of that lunch. Bear in mind please that all the wines were actually served blind.

2019 Chardonnay, Bodega Chacra, Rio Negro
Clear straw colour, hints of lemon curd on the nose, lime and nectarine, appley and elegant Pulignyness. Very fine texture indeed and ripe for the table. When the sock came off I was blown away that this was from Argentina. The label mentions the wine was helped along by the one and only J-M Roulot, and of course, it has all his signature in the wine itself. Quite amazing!

2014 Remelleri Bianco, Rioja
Another big white on the nose. Difficult to place, but I’ll give it a go at being French. It’s very Rousanne, Marsanne and probably some Viognier. Zesty salinity, great and comfortable acidity with a texture more old school than the previous white. Again, the sock came off and the only thing French about it is probably the barrel that the wine was aged in. Outstanding!

2017 Vosne-Romanee Arnoux-Lachaux, Cotes-de-Nuits
Burgundy PN leaps out of the glass. Restrained raspberry, supple and deliciously long. I cannot add any more. Young and yet classique!

2017 Titolo, Basilicata
This wine must have been double decanted before the lunch, so as to give it a dam good breather. I should know, I did it!
Very intense ruby red. The nose reveals balsamic notes that from mint open to very definite notes of cherry and currant. Spicy tones of tobacco and vanilla introduce a warm and enveloping taste, dry, decisive, characterized by a great tannic texture and an astonishing finish for persistence. Having drunk every vintage of Titolo since 2013 I am more or less familiar with the profile by now.

The Baron’B’ fizz was a special centenary edition, well chilled, soft and moussy, it sure kicked the palate into shape for the onslaught. The 1974 German Kabinett stormed through like the preverbiale ‘Bend Zee Knees’ offering much pleasure from the Mosel, and still very much alive and kicking. The lovely bottle of 1980 Sauternes just goes to show that even from the lesser-known properties, like this Ch.d`Arche, there is so much pleasure still to be had from the weaker vintages. Obviously not a big wine, but in good shape and delicious creme caramel flavours to be found. I honestly cannot remember too much about the next two reds, I know them both and they are good but I will not try and wax liracle about them here today. We finished off with Sebastien Zuccardi’s Aluvional ‘eggi’ Malbec and a ripe Brie marinated in someone’s XO Cognac. “Here’s tae us. Wha’s like us? Damn few, and they’re a’deid.”

The following day I could not stop thinking about the Chacra Chardonnay, and how jolly dam good it was. So I did a little research and found that it had just been awarded 100 points from the J.Suckling piggy wiggy non MW, and I would very much like to drink some more of it, before the price shoots up. The bodega told me that the Chardonnay vines are 40 years old and the wine was aged: 20% in concrete eggs, 15% in stainless steel tanks and 20% in used French oak barrels for 10 months. Bottled unfiltered and dedicated to their dear friend Ned. If you can find any I do suggest you give it a go. It’s under U$50 a bottle and really does taste like a Jean-Marc Roulot 150 dollar bottle of great white Burgundy. (Not hype!)

Number Six would like to remind us that “Unlike me, many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

So today, the second week of August 2020, The Hairdressers, Banks and Wine Shops (Vinotecas) are now allowed to re-open, but Restaurants, Hotels and Bars are not. Schools, Libraries and Tennis clubs still remain closed, the latter, as apparently they are terrified that the tennis balls could be plague-infected. So when a player serves to his opponent and then the ball is returned, to when he hits it, pow!, he may actually get a splash of C19. They actually think the C19 is on the ball. Down here they are definitely not on the ball, people drive around in their cars with the face mask on. It’s incredible, I have seen whole families in the same wagon, all masked up, all of them including sometimes even the baby or the child. One of the guests at our mid-plague lunch, the other day, was also boasting a full welders style plastic helmet cover. No joke. He kept lifting the facial piece upwards so as to be able to have a sip of wine, and a bite of his beef lunch and then would replace it into full closed position as if he was about to begin some heavy welding task. Each action was followed by a then washing of his hands with some alcoholic-goo! Where there’s soap, there’s hope!

Chateau Hype

Château d’Yquem has had a weather station for 140 years now and has never recorded higher levels of rainfall than between April and May than this year, 2020. Announced as a matter of course on May 13, 2019 by Bernard Arnault, the very rich chairman of LVMH, a switch-over to organic farming at Château d’Yquem began shortly afterwards. The conversion is highly symbolic and the aim is to secure certification by the 2022 vintage. “We began, the switch-over process on August 12, 2019, but we had already been testing organic treatments on half of vineyard acreage for two years” says Sandrine Garbay, cellar master at the 1855 Premier Grand Cru Classé Supérieur chateau. The 2020 vintage proved to be extremely conducive to the onset of downy mildew in Bordeaux: “For our first 100% organic year, the weather certainly didn’t do us any favours!” sums up the not as rich as his boss is Francis Mayeur, Château d’Yquem’s technical director.

“I will not make any deals with you. I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.” Number Six again, thanks for that!


The Graffiti photograph in the blog was taken by me at the beginning of this quarantine. My friends Alejandro and Eduardo have a brilliant wine shop in the Palermo district, Malambo! The shutters were down, of course as their vinoteca was closed like all the other shops here in Capital Federal, and the ‘artwork’ was painted on one of the blinds. I liked it. If you can tell me what DPM stands for, in the photo, I will send you, without the bill, a large bottle of Titolo. (

And now we are all in the mood for prizes, try this one. On the label of Chacra’s 2019 Chardonnay. It mentions Ned. If you can tell me who Ned is, or was, I will send you a copy of my book F.O.C. The correct replies on a first-come, first answered correctly basis only. Good luck!

I love this dirty town! J.J.H.