The Slog goes in search of sensible wines and sane tecchies

Ever since the world decided that the point of having a drink is to get pissed witless, the strength of wines (especially New World red wines) has been creeping up. If all you want is laughing liquid, then that’s fine: but after several years of it, I’ve decided it’s not for me.

The answer at one time was to stick to French, German and Spanish wines. But even that isn’t a safety zone any more: the silly idea of a 14% claret has started to creep onto the supermarket shelves here in South West France too. Again, if you want to drink chocolate-flavoured tannin, fine: I don’t.

So it’s been something of a revelation to get back to Loire wines of late. Yesterday I served some Muscadet to friends for lunch with a cold fish spread, and it went down without any trouble at all. I still stick to De Sevre et Maine as the appellation when buying this Loire white, but as a whole the Muscadet output’s sad decline is now almost a distant memory. This particular bottle (well, two actually) was the 2009 La Gouryniere. It’s around seven quid in England, but here it sells for euro 5.49. If you’re unlucky enough to be in Blighty at the minute – and looking for something to take your mind off dispossessed citizens expressing their concerns about police brutality by torching your house – then it’s available from wine merchants Alexander Hadleigh at £6.98 a bottle.

An even better find, however, is St Nicholas de Bourgueil. Although this sounds either like a domaine or a small village, it is in fact an appellation in the central Loire valley. The grape used is mainly Cabernet Franc, and the strength of the bottle I got at Casino  is 12.5%. It is a 2008 Domaine Mabileau, and as smooth as a baby’s bum: in fact, as Derek & Clive might’ve said, it’s “Mabileau dee bum-bum”.

Laurent Mabileau set up as a grower in 1985. He has 25 hectares to go at, and if all his output is as good as this one, he is going to wind up a legend in my lunchtime. (You can easily get his address wrong by the way, as there’s also a Frederic Mabileau).

Anyway, I don’t think our Laurent has been discovered in the UK yet: you can buy his stuff online in the States at $13.99, but I couldn’t find a British stockist anywhere on Google.

And talking of Google, we really aren’t paying enough attention to just how much these buggers know about us. I go to an American wine site, and the ads are all in French. I write something about watches, and my Gmail is bombarded with ads for watch brands.

This would be a lot more disturbing if any of these loons knew what they were doing. But if I go to the FT site, it asks me to sign in, I do so, and it tells me it has no record of me. Another panel with my username and dotted password then pops up, I click it, and it lets me in. Once a fortnight, I have precisely the same performance here with WordPress. Reuters accepts my existence on this pc, but not on my Netbook. LinkedIn says it doesn’t know me, but I hit the panel and it lets me in anyway. Huffington Post (I’m on my fourth alias there) keeps removing my profile, and then  asking me why I won’t update my profile. Zero Hedge says I’m not allowed to see the pages it shows me. Every time it says this, and every time it shows me them. The Wall Street Journal asks me to sign up for paywall content, but when I say no, it shows me anything I ask for. I open Ping-o-matic after each post, and every time a notice comes up saying I pinged only five minutes ago, so please come back later. Microsoft office waits until I remove hardware – and then tells me it’s safe to remove hardware. The ONS national statistics site tells me it’s moved, but still seems to work where it used to be anyway. On and on its goes, wherever I post or thread or look for background information: the so-called security is a complex, confusing and useless crock.

All of which convinces me that when the Total Politics Blog Awards wanted to scope out a voting system for blog readers, they asked the tecchie loons to sort it out. And boy, does it show. I have never received such a unanimity of comment threaders saying what an incomprehensible, tedious and utterly discouraging methodology it is. They’re obviously down in the silo with their headphones on: it was just as bad last year, but nothing has changed.