Word on the grape vin

Last night my dad and I finally got around to something we’ve spoken for years about doing: attending a wine tasting, at our local Majestic, and it was an enjoyable evening, with some wonderful discoveries.

During my second year at university I lived next door to one of the best men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and the two of us would share many a bottle of wine or ports or sherries, each of us introducing to the other our preferred bottles. As one can imagine it made for a fantastic year, a friendship blossoming from the foundations of a shared appreciation of the finer things. And last night there were truly some fine things to appreciate, and of the dozen tastings, here are those I enjoyed most.

For me, the most exciting find was the A Sticky End Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough. It reminded me of Tokaji, another dessert wine, but less syrupy. The nose had a very subtle nuttiness accompanying ripe peach, and then on the palette there was a slight citrus note that enhanced the honeyed flavour. Oh so good, and will definitely be buying bottles in the future.

The Chapel Down Brut NV, England was another eye opener. My sister spent time at Chapel Down a few years back, but this was the first time I had sampled one of their bottles; it was also the first taster of the evening. It has a very yeasty flavour, but is well balanced, zesty and quite literally dances around your mouth. Being a Kentish boy, a local vineyard producing such quality on the doorstep is fantastic, and is one that I feel will give Champagnes stiff competition.

Crossing the Atlantic provided the third revelation, and until we learnt where it was from proved tricky for us to work out. It had a full bodied flavour, a nice oakiness to it, and was reminiscent in many ways of the old-style Spanish whites that are more akin to a Fino. While I particularly enjoy the old-style, I suppose you might say “they are not in vogue”, production having come to a halt it appears. So for the Saintsbury Chardonnay 2012, Carneros to evoke such thoughts was an unexpected pleasure.

I tend to drink predominantly Spanish reds, or with particular meals possibly a French, and our wine cupboard has some suitably aged bottles. My feeling when I tasted the Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2013, Reserve de Capouliers was that while it had a nice depth to it, the black fruits and hints of liquorice and tannins full, it needs to age a little for it to be truly magical. Personally I’d choose to store it for another five years or so before drinking, but that’s me.

And the Calvados at the end was on another scale altogether!






About Peter Smith

A voracious reader, Peter Smith is an editorial assistant with an unhealthy passion for tea, ballroom dancing, cake decorating (and eating), and photography. Fortunately not all at the same time.
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