Tasting in a winter wonderland
Be on the lookout for “walking tastings” at your local wine merchant as they are a great way to try lots of different wines and make some new, often unexpected discoveries, at a very reasonable price. Last week me and The Fish went to the Robersons winter walk around, and a great time was had by all. Robersons store is situated at the Olympia end of Kensington High Street and they were recently crowned Decanter London Wine Merchant of the Year.
Firstly I have to say a massive thank you to Lisa, who informed me of a cancelation as I had totally forgotten to book at a decent time in advance – lifesaver! For £20/head we had the opportunity to try 50, yes 50, different wines from all around the world, with something for every pocket. The cheapest wine on offer was a Le Grand Noir 2011, a Grenache, Syrah, Movedre blend from the Languedoc, at £7.95. The most expensive and (unsurprisingly) my favourite was a 1995 AF Gross Richebourg Grand Cru at, at, at… £190 a bottle.
The tasting was set up over both floors of the High Street Ken store and was organised into 6 different tasting tables. In the cellar we found the Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and Sweet Wine tables, as well as the blind tasting challenge… I will confess all later! On the ground floor the tables were set up for Bubbles and “A Global Christmas”. Also on offer were wonderful mince pies, excellent Stilton and a plentiful supply if water and fresh tasting glasses.
The event was brilliantly organised and the staff were amazing: Knowledgable, passionate, helpful and, so important for an event like this, very friendly. Advice on all of the ones was offered at what ever level of detail you wanted, and the pours were certainly on the healthy side!
In the 90 minutes we were there we probably got through about 35 of the wines available and I’ve picked out my favourites below. I haven’t scored the wines as I prefer to have a glass to really think about it so it wouldn’t be consistent with other posts. The prices I have quoted are per bottle, and can be bought cheaper by the case.
Ebner-Ebenauer Gruner Veltliner 2011, Wienviertel, Austria (£9.95)
Lots of white pepper and very typical of Gruner. Dry, minerally and excellent value for money. Stock up.
Valle Uniti Ottavio Rube Bianco 2010, Piedmont, Italy (£11.95)
Made using Cortese, the grape of Gavi fame, this is another brilliantly priced wine. Pears, limes, delightfully crisp and delightfully simple.
Cantina Terlano Classico 2011, Alto Adige, Italy (£17.95)
From one of the best co-operatives in the world I was told, the main grape here is Pinot Bianco. Lovely stone fruits, wonderful acidity and a generous finish. A great alternative to the Alsace.
N&M Guerrin Pouilly-Fuisse Les Cras 2010, Burgundy, France (£19.95)
There were a couple of more expensive wines from Meursault on the Burgundy table but this one took my fancy. Fat and voluptuous, like peaches and cream. 15% new oak is apparent but nicely integrated. Very good now, better in a couple of years.
Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo 2011, Campania, Italy (£22.95)
Fresh and peachy. Really good body and minerality. Great by itself and better with food – the handout we received on the night suggested it was a great partner to turkey.
Maximin Grunhaus Abstberg Riesling Kabinett 2008, Mosel, Germany (£23.95)
Smells of kerosene and limes, quite new worldy actually. Beautifully off-dry with bags of sweet fruit and elegance. Delicious.
Domaine de Chevalier Esprit de Chevalier 2009, Bordeaux, France (£26.95)
Too much oak I thought at first, but really came together. Lots of citrus and grassy notes, very refreshing. Blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. I’m going to spend more time with white Bordeaux in 2013.
Le Grand Noir GSM 2011, Languedoc, France (£7.95)
Brilliant value. Spicy and bramble fruit but smooth, even sophisticated. Maybe the best value wine under £8 around?
Decenio Rioja Reserva 2002, Rioja, Spain (£9.95)
More value! This tastes more like a £20 Rioja. Lovely balance of vanilla-oak and ripe, red fruit. A few of these for a Wednesday I think.
Chateau Lascombes Chevalier de Lascombes Margaux 2008, Bordeaux, France (£27.95)
Lots of elegance and sweet black fruit. Lovely hint of eucalyptus, leather and pencil shavings. Very nice and fragrant.
Le Salette La Marega Amarone 2007, Veneto, Italy (£39.95)
I love the sweet cherry depth and concentration of Amarone. The time in the sun certainly intensified these Corvina grapes. Sweet, sweet cherry and lovely whisp if smokey bacon. Super concentrated.
Chateau de Sales, Pomerol 1985, Bordeaux, France (£49.95)
Very soft with lots of soft red fruit and lots of elegance. Hints of herbs and graphite and all very gentle. Understated but wonderful.
Chateau Brane-Cantenac Margaux 2000, Bordeaux, France (£69.95)
A step up from the Lascombes. This is all about finesse and refinement. Lovely mix of red and black fruits at the front, then come the gentle herbs and mushroom-y tertiary flavours. Silky smooth and quite delightful.
Elio Altare Barolo 1995, Piedmont, Italy (£88.95)
I haven’t been lucky enough to try a top quality, aged Barolo until now. This is soft and fruity, with amazing structure. Light in weight, almost Burgundian (I knew there was a Burgundy/Piedmont thing – see blind tasting!). Cherries, mushroom. Pure elegance and what a long finish. Fab-u-lous!
AG Gros Richebourg 1995, Burgundy, France (£190.00)
I need a moment.
I have never smelt or tasted anything like this in my life. I stood and had my photo taken in the Richebourg vineyard earlier this year, hoping that I would get the opportunity to drink its bounty one day. And this was the day. I can’t afford £190 for a Bottle of wine but this made me think about it! A bit cloudy in the glass but the aromas went on for ever. Raspberry, cherry, blueberry, mint, leather, mushroom, truffle… To name but a few. This translates onto the palate and just keeps on going. Thank you.
The sweet (had a train to catch so just the one!)
Chateau Cornellia Muscat de Rivesaltes 2010, Roussillon, France (£12.95)
Like pears poached in an aromatic sweet syrup. Deliciously sweet, deliciously refreshing and deliciously priced!
The blind challenge
OK, embarrassing confession time. Country, area, variety, vintage, price. I don’t know why but I was convinced this was a light bodied Italian red. I went with Barbera from Alba in Piedmont. There was a bit of age but tannins still showing so I went with 2008 and guessed £17.95 for price. I was right on vintage and only £2 under on price… Shame about the country; it was a 2008 Savigny-les-Beane. Burgundy. My so called favourite wine region. The Fish even suggested Burgundy!
What have I learnt? You should all stop reading my wine blog! Seriously though, this is why I didn’t consider scoring these wines. It made me realise that wine tasting is a tough job. After 30 to 40 different wines, smells, flavours and sensations – your palate must be affected and get “tired”. So lets stick to a maximum of 6 wines per tasting!