The Feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker

should always be marked by the drinking of prosecco and South African pinot. (in that order, not together... probably).

The non-vintage prosecco in this case being a nicely off-dry frizzante style IGT from Cazzano di Tramigna. A very pleasant 13-14/20 (and 5/5 for value).

Steenberg pinot noir 2000 (which is not listed in Steenberg's wines) was a tasty lightweight wine. Medium red, showing no signs of age, the delicate nose had hints of coffee underlying the dominant smoky strawberries character. On the palate there was the looked-for gamey note, and a long finish which became rather bitter. 14/20


Hoorah for the birthday ELF

The ELF's birthday, so now he's officially forty-two, same as me. After going to see "The Incredibles" we came home and drank some very credible wines.

d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab marsanne/viognier 02003, screwcapped (boo), is aromatic, oily, and weighty. A lovely aperitif. Bob's wine of the year. 15/20

Glaetzer Bishop shiraz 02001, cork. Very polished. (stop that childish sniggering at the back there) A smoooooth shiraz, but also full on. One to convert those who don't like red wine, the ELF himself being such a one. After he tasted this he requested that I seek out some for him. The tannins are very very muted, the wine is in perfect balance. Mellow. 15-16/20

Outsider shiraz 02002, cork. Much bolder than the Bishop. Higher acidity, more tannic, fresher fruit. ELF didn't like it as much - it's not so mellow you see. 16+/20

Gonzales Byass Apostoles Palo Cortado Muy Viejo. Non vintage, but aged thirty years in cask. Palo Cortado is something which you hardly ever see, because it only rarely happens that the freshly fermented wine has the correct characteristics for ageing into this style. Intense nutty christmas cake nose, not strongly sherried character. Not sweet, but medium. 16/20