I like to see the unengined reclaiming the highways and byways; so as I drove past Jean Beliveau, who was trudging up the N8 in the heat of Sunday afternoon, I was pleased to see his name clearly written on the side of his cart. I knew he'd be in the computer somewhere, and here he is.
Another traveller with charity in his heart was Kenneth O'Regan, who looked like a man who could use a lift. He told me he had been waiting four hours to get a spin out of Cork, and the gig in Dublin he had organized was to begin at 10.30pm. His arriving on time didn't look likely - people tend not to give lifts, for all kinds of reasons - but I took him as far as I could. I hope he got to Temple Bar on time. He had some good stories to tell, not just about fire.
Here's the wine part. I get a lot, a lot of e-mails and letters from suppliers in Bordeaux. All I can do is decline politely and hope to nip their hopes in the bud. We have all the claret we need at the moment. Mme Demonchaux at Château Pierrail, however, insisted on sending a sample of the château's wine. It was extremely good in a Robert Parker-friendly way (big and strong, with New-Worldy exuberance), but too expensive by far. Unfortunately, what's in the bottle is not always as important as getting the right appellations on the menu at the best price. We've all gotta make a living.
When Mme D. rang, to see what we thought, I had to choose my words carefully. I hope I was firm in my refusal, without failing to give praise where due.
The upshot of that conversation with the charming and courteous Mme Demonchaux was that she insisted on sending another bottle: the Château Naudon, an unoaked 2004 at a price much closer to what I had suggested was the going rate for our customers, where a basic Bordeaux Supérieur was concerned. That's the bottle that got sampled at home yesterday. I brought the remainder in this morning, for the Bubble Brothers to have a go at. I suspect they'll concur that it's big and bold all right, and would appeal to drinkers of hefty Australian blends - plenty of those in Ireland - but its 13.5% alcohol seemed to me too hotly overt on the nose, never mind on the palate, where fruit and kick seemed to coexist without any very fine shading to speak of. Perhaps in a couple of years subtleties will emerge, but from a business point of view that's two years we don't got, and in the meantime people who do want Bordeaux, at whatever level, are probably going to have (over)heard about the 2005 vintage and be badgering me about that.