Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tinto Figuero 4 2011, 2012

Viñados y Bodegas García Figuero Tinto Figuero 4 2011 Düsseldorf May 2013 €10

and then the 2012 in May 2014 in a Düsseldorf tapas restaurant €34.


The first time I drank this wine I was not impressed. There was nothing wrong with the wine, but it was nothing special and there were better ways of spending €10 on Ribera wine. The second time and a different vintage the wine was sensational – fruit, some oak – a hint of boot polish and then a very long and spicy finish. Something I have never encountered in a Ribera Roble before, I have no idea if the winery has changed the composition from 100% tempranillo to something with some garnacha – but the website says 100% tempranillo. If you can find this wine, this vintage, outside of a restaurant do buy some and try it.



Urban Ribera

Urban Ribera Tinta Del Pais 2008 Roble €7.50 Mövenpick April 2014

Bodegas Ortega Fournier.

This is a very good wine, at the price (knocked down from a higher and less appealing figure) . 2008 is a bit old for a roble and only three months in oak, but the wine itself has been very well made.

The wine was tasted straight out of the bottle and into the glass at about 19ºC, little above the recommended temperature of 16°C. The wine shows signs of its age, it is not bright, it is a little dull and murky, when assessing the colour at the edge of the glass it is brown rather than purple.

On the nose there is the polish of French oak and just a hint of ash tray but not much fruit. And then the taste or rather the whole mouth feel. Some French oak and lots of unctuous something and long lasting something at that.

Despite the above description this is a very nice wine and one I will try at a slightly lower temperature and with different food, in fact I will probably buy half a dozen tomorrow.

If you get a chance to buy this wine at anything up to about €12.50 then I think you will have a very reasonable purchase, it is not a vibrant fruit driven joven, it is not a classic American Oak Parker special, it is a very well made wine with a distinctive and most appealing taste.

Lucero Del Alba 2011 Roble, Sembro 2012 Roble, Valdubón 2011 Roble,Lopez-Cristobal 2012 Roble


Lucero Del Alba 2011 Roble Bodegas Cruz de Alba €9.99 Karstadt Düsseldorf

Sembro 2012 Roble VIÑAS DEL JARO, S.L.U €6.99 Kaufhof Düsseldorf

Valdubón 2011 Roble Bodegas Valdubón €9.99 Kaufhof Düsseldorf

Lopez-Cristobal 2012 Roble €8.80 in Viñedo weine aus spanien, Merkurstrasse 38 Düsseldorf


Having drunk Viñedo weine aus spanien, out of their Paramo de Corcos, with no sign of any more being ordered I have had to search around a bit for an a) good and b) affordable Ribera.


I had some very good memories of the Valdubón 2011 Roble when it was on sale in Mas in Spain for about €3.80 a bottle, but at nearly €10.00 it is expensive. The Lopez-Cristobal is a far superior wine with a better balance, some very fine French Oak, lots of fruit and more life.


The Semro has been interesting, a bit drier than most Riberas, but with plenty of fruit and a very strong taste of vanilla – it reminded me of Riberas made with 5% or more Merlot and oaked – I am not sure how – to bring out the vanilla without brining out the tannins. A wine that goes very well with lamb chops and unpasteurised cheeses such as Comté and Emmental.


The final wine of the quartet is Lucero Del Alba: 6 months in American and French oak – the American oak predominates. A singular Ribera,well made, nothing nasty lurking and with some fruit and very dry. It did little for me and at this price is not a bargain. However, if you don’t like fruit driven joven Riberas and find many of the crianzas either too heavy or expensive then this may suit you.

This got me thinking.

This got me thinking.

Rita posted the suggestion wine-tastings as a reaction to Jon Hird’s excellent article  about ‘verbing’ which started me thinking.

What came first noun or verb? The Online Etymology Dictionary places taste as a verb earlier than taste as a noun, so ‘ we were tasting wine’  must predate  ‘a wine tasting’ or ‘a series of wine tastings’.

At some point wine tasting became a gerund ‘Wine tasting is my hobby, wine tastings are my life’.

I have found some hyphenated wine-tasting, but almost exclusively when being used as an adjective as in  a wine-tasting glass, following the adjective noun compounding ‘ a strong-tasting cheese, a foul-tasting beer’; but there is not a lot of evidence for  hyphenating compound noun gerunds – it is usually ‘the fell running shoe’ or  ‘the ice climbing boot’.

Do you know if any of the exam boards have created any ‘rules’ for this sort of thing?


CAE write a review – try adverts.

When I try to persuade adults to write a review as practice for CAE, a fairly standard response is : ‘I don’t have time to watch films/read books/go to the theatre so I cannot write a review.’ If you get a similar response then try using commercials from Youtube.

In one CAE class held in a detergent manufacturer I showed two washing powder adverts, one from Italy and one from India. Italian Laundry Detergent Commercial           NIrma Washing Powder Ambulance Ad               .

We then went through some of the text book exercises about writing reviews, some collaborative practice in class, before setting the homework task – Find two washing powder advertisements and review them.  – I got some very well written homework!

You’ve got to laugh – a little

As this is a little followed blog you can imagine my excitement when I receive a ‘hit’ from a distant country.  Today I received two hits from the States, they were for the Owl and the Pussy-Cat resources, but what intrigued me was the search term used.  All I can say is I image some hairy palmed twelve-year-old was sorely disappointed by what they downloaded.  But then I had a second thought, I imagine that the term Pussy is blocked by many institutional anti porn filters, so it must be difficult to search for some poems.

To increase the hit rate on the Owl resources I think I’ll try using some different tags.

Text book blight. Why do they and teachers teach adults to use elided forms?

Or why Spaniards sometimes seem unreliable – a business problem, a language solution.

A number of my Spanish business students make use of telephone conferencing when talking to contacts in other countries. Some use Skype and others use something a bit more expensive, but seldom is video conferencing used and frequently the main language is English.

Typical contact patterns are Spain – Poland [English], Spain – India [English], Spain – Thailand [English], Spain – UK – USA [English].

There are two major problems encountered in these exchanges that I have never found mentioned in the limited number of text books I have read. The first is caused by textbooks and teachers trying to teach ‘authentic’ English in particular contracted forms.

Can and can not or can´t – there is a Spanish tendency to not pronounce the final letter in consonant clusters very audibly. So can´t sounds like can to an English ear [a Spaniard will often hear another Spaniard saying can’t, so colleagues in the same room in a telephone conference know that the speaker is saying can’t but the English listener at the other end of the telephone conference only hears can. This tendency to hear can is compounded by the listener wanting to hear a positive answer.

UK We need delivery by next Wednesday
Spain – we can* do that
UK Good so we are agreed!
Spain – I said we can*
This ping-pong can carry on for a while, much to all parties frustration until:
UK OK, bye

Wednesday – no delivery

UK But those ****** Spaniards told us they could deliver – ******** siesta merchants.

While in Spain there is bafflement at how stupid their international contact are, but self congratulation that the Spanish were so polite – not being too direct and not using the dreaded no word.

And all because Spaniards are taught to say can’t (badly) and not to be too direct – because it is impolite.

Do your students also suffer from text book blight?

The second problem – subject of another blog and the solutions for both will appear under the misunderstanding page.

Proficiency and a concordancer

Yesterday I was wondering about the relative frequencies of use of couldn’t, shouldn’t and oughtn’t in written and in spoken English, with 15 minutes to kill before the next lesson I fired up my concordancer and ran some searches.

My student was early and so we started before I had finished. During the lesson we fell to discussing his latest essay and my highlighting his use of ‘At first’ at the start of a sentence. I had no problem with the position or the words, but more with what was not written.

At first, concerning the best way to organise the Film Club,. I propose that each departmental group should select their movies for a month.

 I said I felt that ‘At first …phrase..’ was often followed by a contrasting phrase joined by but, however or then.

At first my student didn’t accept this view, so I turned to the concordancer as it was already loaded and ran a scan resulting in over 100 examples from the written corpus and 30 odd from the spoken. We started to wade through the texts.

 … . You didn’t see it [[at first]], but you saw if you held you head at the …

…….. [[At first]] Buzz saw nothing, but then she gasped in horror. Each …

[[At first]] Clare kept in touch with Annabel after her sister returned to New York, but as her own life became increasingly

 After these three within the first few examples his opinion modified slightly and we searched for an alternative – Firstly, or Initially -.

 I now have a student who will turn to a concordancer when he is not happy with the feel of a sentence, we are moving from semantics to pragmatics which is progress indeed.

 So if you teach Proficiency students, or strong minded Advanced students a concordancer can be an ‘authoritative’ way of backing up your own gut feel and possibly a step towards learner autonomy.

If you speak Polish, and want to learn English… why are you reading my blog?

An e-learning platform, that I helped to co-author

Using the Just-the-word concordancer demonstration video

Inspired by Russell Stannard and using Jing, I have created this short video to demonstrate how simple it is to use the on-line concordancer from Sharp at .

There are one or two limitations on the site – nodata on where the underlying examples of English have come from , or how recent the data is (that I could find), a 100 searches a day limit, but the site does allow you access to an API to do technical stuff with.  And if you have enough data you can make a Wordle map of your results.

Enjoy the video