And so we return, skint and sober, from the festive period. Heaven knows how we survived. (What is it, for example, about the Scots? Why do they make such a fuss about celebrating mahogany?)
But to help us stagger through, the people at Rude Wines were kind enough to send us a brace of bottles apiece. Given the pretensions of PK and the poverty of CJ, it's rare for us both to consume the same wines. So here's how the Rude products found their way into our seasonal diet…
28th December 2013 - CJ
Really I was hoping for something light, refined, but with a hint of austerity – kind of a David Niven wine – after the knuckle-dragging 15% Pilastro my Pa-in-law had insisted on serving over Christmas (see also a couple of Christmasses ago), and which left my mouth feeling like a pub carpet. But of course the La Masseria Primitivo from Rude Wines turned out to be virtually the same as that terrible Pilastro, only 14.5% instead of 15 and with a quieter label. A truth which dawned on me as I sat at my kitchen table morosely tippling while noting on a piece of paper the following gnomic relevancies: 'Like a hedgehog'; 'doesn't get any better'; 'harsh raisins'; and, in a final existential cry, 'industrial vacuum cleaner'. It's bad enough not knowing what I like; but knowing what I don't like and then drinking it anyway has to be somewhere at the top end of stupid. And it's not the first time. I mean, obviously there are scores of people who look on a big, sweating, Primitivo with unfeigned affection, but then there are people who get along with Donald Trump.
29th December – PK
The problem with celebrations is that they remind me of how I ought to drink. Christmas, New Year and the birthday I have between the two are all excuses for some fine wine drinking of the calibre which I feel I deserve. The issue then is what to drink on the intervening days, without dragging the whole season back down to dross. It seems defeatist to retreat into what I know are bargain bin purchases, with the operative word being ‘bin’. So as leftovers are being arranged into what is known at Casa K as a cold collision, I decide to gamble on one of these unknown Rude wines. Their Antichi Borghi Chianti started off spritely, if a bit on the thin side; but the bouquet disappeared faster than the flames on our Christmas pudding, and the flavour chased it. By the time we had (as Masterchef has taught us to say) “plated up”, it emerged as a strangely greasy, tasteless yet somehow acrid plonk, like a combination of sunflower oil and Night Nurse. Oh dear, let this not be a portent of wines for the year to come. For once, I’m afraid I don’t wish to be Rude…
4th January 2014 - CJ
Crowdfunding a liver transplant: that's my project for the start of the new year. It may be age catching up, but the last few weeks have passed in such a welter of grog, that I am now overwhelmed by sensations of ennui and liverishness plus a desire to replace my insides with something more durable. When it came to it, it was as much as I could do to look at this bottle of Chianti, let alone drink the contents. Still. Out came the cork, the red liquid splashed into the Duralex, and what do you know, but this was the one I was begging for all along? Nice tannins (I smirked to myself) good acidity, and that charming, slightly motheaten finish I look for in a Chianti. Yes: reticent, no nose to speak of, but what was this? A suggestion of caraway? Or was I hallucinating? At any rate, I had been semi-seriously contemplating giving up drink for at least a day. But now? A new accommodation, only with this proviso: please God, no more fit-to-burst heavy-hitting reds, reeking of fruits and black as pitch. Just give me something potable I can see daylight through.
6th January – PK
It’s all over. The tree is down, the lights extinguished, and Christmas and New Year have evaporated, along with their accompaniment, Happy. To counter a cold, rainswept Twelfth Night – to say nothing of the remnants of an actual cold – and before being thrown back on the diminished resources of my cellar, I opened the second of Rude’s wines. Their Primitivo signalled its intentions like a ringside bell, with a dense, inky colour, and a strong, fruity nose. We’re not talking subtlety here; it’s a squat and muscular John Prescott of a wine. Briefly I forgot my notions of finesse, and wallowed in the syrupy comfort of its dense, plummy warmth with a hint of spice, a glow in winter I found fondly reminiscent of Old English Spangles. It's like a lovely warm bath, for those who drink such things.
But the samples are gone and our racks depleted. It’s time to begin another year of confused foraging. “Bring in”, as Dickens wrote, “the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler and a corkscrew”...
CJ & PK