So Christmas came and went with the usual Cava cock-up from Tesco: they delivered the order (some Cordoniu 1551, rather a step up for us, very tasty when it finally arrived) ten days late and then delivered it again, five days after that, minus one bottle, a second, uninvited case of eleven bottles. The courier blamed Tesco, Tesco sighed with exasperation down the phone about the couriers. This makes three out of four Tesco deliveries that have gone cranky on us. I'm sure our house is on a ley line but everyone else can manage it.
Things improved when my brother-in-law came round with his partner for supper on the 23rd, with a properly uncompromising bottle of JackTone Ranch Pinot Noir, while on Christmas Day, my Ma gave me a nice bottle of Blossom Hill Merlot which she bought at the Post Office. I've laid it down until next week, looking forward to drinking it.
After this it was on to my Pa-in-law's. He has a kink for something called Pilastro, fruity, shouty, which one gets to quite like, not as much as he likes it, but enough all the same, and that was going okay until he produced a magnum of - I can't remember what, exactly, a Cabernet Sauvignon it might have said on the label, but either way it was unashamedly perverse, tasting of treacle and earwax and wood glue. And a magnum: since we were the only two people drinking it, it seemed to last forever, but what can you do? He was savouring it as if it might have been a three-figure Margaux. 'This certainly packs a punch,' I managed to say. I mean it would have been churlish to bitch about this endless bottle of wine, but two days went by and I don't think we managed to finish it, despite our best efforts, my bowels slowly turning into tyre compound. And while, as it turned out, PK was doing his impersonation of Lord Snooty and his Pals, drinking a drink with two K's in its name, several hundred miles away, which I'm glad I didn't know at the time.
Which is churlish of me because the same Pa-in-law had already sent me a case of Miwok Ridge Californian Shiraz (2010 vintage), and this is an assertive, alarmingly candid wine, a wine with, frankly, pubic hair; but in a way that causes surprisingly little offence. According to the instructions, the drink takes its name from the Miwok Indians (they're still around) and is 'Soft and supple'. This latter is not true. The first glassful I poured was so volcanic I had to leave it on the table for an hour while it fizzed and burped in the glass, but once I'd got used to the gusts coming out, I found myself rather liking it: peppery, tarry, all that - and with incredible staying power. It doesn't seem to matter how long you leave an already-opened bottle before you return to it, the flavour only softens and becomes more obliging. Three and a half days is the most I've had one bottle on the go so far, but I'm tempted to try for the full week.
In fact, I may use this experience to take a proper, or at least half-arsed, interest in Shiraz/Syrah wherever it occurs. As far as I can see, wine made from this grape almost always delivers something, and quite probably what I want. I can't count the number of Cabernet Sauvignon mixtures I've drunk which have been like old fountain pen ink or rusty rainwater, whereas the most bolted-together Mediterranean supermarket Shiraz/Syrah has usually managed to entertain, even it meant drinking it with oven gloves. My tiny moment of revelation for 2012, and I have the Pa-in-law to thank for it.
So how was it for you?