December 9th: Paddock Shiraz and Ken Dodd

The Paddock Shiraz

Wine Advent Calendar December 9th: The Paddock Shiraz 2015

I second-guessed when I started this 24-day countdown to Christmas that I’d end up missing some days. I have a memory like a sieve.

So this post isn’t so much a wine recommendation for December 9th – but more the story of what I did on December 9th.

When my pal Denise asked me to go the annual Liverpool Press Club lunch I thought why not. I live in Liverpool; I’ve worked in the Press for many years; I’ve been to several clubs in my time. I haven’t combined the three before so now’s as good a time as any.

Mind you, said Denise, we’d be the young ones. With a combined age of XYZ between us (put it this way, I was buying records when Jimmy Osmond was a child) I thought she was kidding. Errm no.

I also thought Denise was exaggerating when she said a) ice in the bar would be a luxury item b) the wine list wouldn’t be up to much and c)  jeans would be a posh look.

The venue was The Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. The Adelphi is like a very old relative you have a soft spot for, despite them turning a bit odd in their declining years. Saying that, you don’t have to shout at the Adelphi to make yourself heard  or squeeze it in the back seat of the car for a day trip to the seaside.

I’d arrived at the hotel in a flurry. The morning hadn’t gone as planned and after rushing across town I found my pal hovering by the receptionist pointing at the wine list.  “I’ve ordered champagne,” she said, “the rest of the list doesn’t look much good at all. Order some wine. Order it now. They’ll put your name on it.”

Yup. Fully-trained journos order a full bottle of wine each, which is then plonked (apt word) on the table with their name on it. This is presumably to prevent middle-of-the-meal minesweeping by niftier speed-drinking journos.

I looked at the wine list. My Body Language said “trust me, I know about wine”. I plumped for a £16.95 bottle, smugly declaring it was made by a Hollywood superstar.

Next up. The bar. There were a couple of barmen and one huge bucket of ice. Granted, the barmen moved slower than icebergs (quicker than some guests truth be told)  but it was going well so far.

Anyone for a large glass of wine? Errm no, there’s only two large wine glasses and they’re both out there being used, said the barman.

So we hit the gin and then the gin hit me. Three drinks in,  I was wearing two Christmas hats. By the time I was halfway through my turkey dinner I also wearing a paper clip with my name attached to it in case I got lost. Meantime my pal was creating models of Donald Trump’s head using sprouts and a dollop of carrot. As you do.

Donald Trump sprout
Donald Trump sprout

At one point I was a bit hot but luckily the waitress poured a full glass of water down my back.

Did I mention Ken Dodd?  The original speaker couldn’t come so Ken stood in at short notice. The Adelphi is just over 100 years’ old and veteran comic Ken isn’t far behind. He’s still going, every credit to him, though he’s  a bit raggedy round the edges, just like the Adelphi. I glanced up at one point and saw Doddy trying not to nod off during the speeches. Bit like me through his verrrrrrry long jokes.

Ken Dodd press lunch
Ken stood in with 48 hours’ notice – and spoke for what seemed  the same time

Now then, back to the wine.  I took a sip of The Paddock Shiraz 2015 and thought mmmmmm … you’ve messed up haven’t you.

In my arrival flurry,  I’d scanned the wine list so quickly I  mixed up Sam Neill’s excellent  Two Paddocks wine with another Paddock brand, singular.  I’ve never been  good with numbers.

Sam Neill’s wine is New Zealand pinot noir; but the wine with my name on it was shiraz and from Australia. Sam’s wine hadn’t appeared on the wine list at all. It was a #doh moment.

Not the only #doh of that day. But what an excellent day.

The Paddock Shiraz 2015

What is it: It’s a red wine 

Where’s it from: South Eastern Australia

The grapes:  Shiraz  – though the link I’ve found says it’s a blend  of shiraz (86%) petit verdot 9% and viognier (5%)

What of the taste?  The label describes it as easy drinking  – well I thought it hard going. I found it harsh, bitter and not very fruity. But saying that my taste buds had just tussled with three gin and tonics and grappled with a plate of Brussels pate which was drizzled with what I can only describe as pink gravy.

I wasn’t in the best physical state to critique wine.

So in the interest of fairness I’ve bobbed over to Vivino and here’s some scores on the doors made, I would hope, by wine lovers unhindered by pink gravy taste bud attacks.

Small print: The Paddock Shiraz 2015 is 14% abv (yup, I noticed THAT bit on the day) and I found it  online here  for £6.25.

Here’s some TripAdvisor comments about the Adelphi.


December 4th: De Bortoli Botrytis Semillon

De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

Wine Advent Calendar December 4th:  De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

Here we are, December 4th, and my first sweet wine of the 24-day wine advent calendar countdown. You might not want a sweet wine; it’s Sunday so you might be wanting a red with your roast.  But let me get this out of my system because I love sweet wines.

Here’s the story of this one. When I go to walk-round wine tastings with my pal Cambo, tradition dictates that we start with sparkles, then head for the whites, then the reds, then finally make a beeline for the sweetie table which is the biggest treat of them all.

The sweetie this time was at a wine fair organised by the delightful Mike Stoddart, manager of Oddbins  in Liverpool and was held in the Crypt at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral (nicknamed Paddy’s Wig Wam by the Scouse wags here).

I’d done a visual sweep of the room when I arrived – where were the sweeties? – and with ten minutes to go before “last orders” were called I headed to the  Australia table and smiled nicely at the young chap pouring tastings of the De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon.

The smile worked a treat, as you can see.

De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon
Eerrmm … yes. I asked the chap to pour a generous measure



De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

What is it: It’s a dessert wine. I love, love, love, love, dessert wines. 

Where’s it from:  Australia. The region is Riverina  in New South Wales. Find out more  here

I’ll tell you some more: I fell in love with sweet wines when I visited De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis SemillonSauternes a couple of years ago. The wines are delicious in themselves (it’s odd that I love them so much because I don’t have a sweet tooth when it comes to food) but more than anything I admire the way these wines are made. Patience and skill  beyond measure. And who on earth discovered that mouldy grapes could produce such amazing wines.

Eeeeek!! Mouldy? Well, yes.  Don’t look away in disgust just yet …. Botrytis cinerea is a mould which develops on grapes if the conditions are just right. It needs damp misty mornings and warm dry afternoons. The rot – known as noble rot – weakens grape skins, so the water evaporates, the grapes shrivel, and the sugars and acids intensify. The grapes are then hand-picked one by one over many days by incredibly patient people.

The grape: Semillon – other grape varieties are also susceptible to noble rot.

What of the taste?  Oh my.  It has aromas of marmalade, and apricots,  and honey, and lemon citrus, and pear, and vanilla, and  – oh – the taste – the same fruity sweet richness is offset by a cleansing acidity. Which sets you up nicely for another glass. Yummmmyyyy.

The small print. It is 11% abv and was marked at £9 for the 37.5cl bottle on the Australia table. Mike tells me he still has about a dozen bottles in the Liverpool Oddbins shop but you might have to hurry.

I’ve also found it here on Amazon for £45.57 for a case of six, which equates to about £7.60 each.

And you don’t have to think desserts for this wine. It would be perfect next to slithers of blue cheese.