Notes made by John Harris after the event. Many thanks to everyone who brought these wines and introduced them so ably!
Prima Perla Sparkling Chardonnay NV – traditional bottle-fermented French non-champagne from Jean-Claude Mas (Majestic £9.99) – pleasant quaffing fizz but no more!
Jenkyn Place Brut Cuvée 2010 – 60% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Noir, 8% Pinot Meunier. A very elegant favourite on the night, showing how good English fizz can be – now in its 5th year after vintage, the 2010 Jenkyn Place Cuvee has reached a delicious level of maturity. The nose is characterised by pure, bright citrus with yeast-complexed fruit, followed by a silky palate of tropical fruits, quince and baked bread. Freshness and precision of flavour is enhanced by beautiful balancing acidity, giving this wine a harmonious mouthfeel with great persistence. Price £28.50
Leon Beyer Sylvaner 2014 (Alsace) – pleasant very light easy-drinking white, some nice Alsace character for this normally-blended grape – Wine Society say “Dry, food-friendly Alsace white with a hint of peppery spice, a twist of honey and delicious appley flavour. Satisfying and refreshing.”
Louis Jadot Pernand – Vergelesses 2011 – a very classy white Burgundy, lovely subtle oak ageing and what a treat for those wedding guests we heard about! Not an inexpensive wine though, nothing is in Beaune.
13/2015 Parcel Series Pinot Noir 2015 (Majestic £9.99) – made from declassified Pinot Noir grapes from the Otago region of New Zealand. A delightful very pure expression of Pinot Noir, ripe strawberries and red cherries on the nose and following though on the palate. Not a complex wine but who cares – eminently drinkable while they still have some, excellent value for money.
Passagem Douro 2009 (Bandeiras Family in the Douro Superiore, Portugal) – blend of Touriga Nacionale and Touriga Franca (normally used to make port) – very luscious and slightly spicy red, maybe a little on the young side, shows what Portugal can do with dry reds. A favourite on the night.
Yalumba “The Scribbler” 2012 (Barossa Valley, Australia) – classic Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blend which they do so well. Full, spicy and aromatic but not “in your face” with the fruit as some of these can be – my favourite red of the night.
Beronia Reserva Rioja 2012 (widely available) – a tempranillo/graciano/mazuela blend and a light modern style of Rioja with fruit as well as the traditional subtle oak. A very enjoyable and inexpensive Rioja with real character.
Vergelegen Merlot 2006 , Stellenbosch, South Africa. One of the best-known SA wineries and owned by Simon Downing’s company, hence the availability of an older vintage. To my palate, it had the characteristic Stellenbosch “smokiness” and a very full plummy character with soft tannins. –be interesting to compare with a younger vintage.
Stanton & Killeen Rutherglen Muscat NV – a unique style of Aussie sticky, from an area which has the climate to specialise in these sweet slightly-fortified nectars. Figs, sultanas, quinces, even Christmas Pud on the palate and what a complex nose; worth every penny of £20.
Chocolate Ruby NV (£7.99, Marks & Spencer) – well, definitely an unusual wine – maybe too sweet to drink much of it, but over a nice ice-cream, better! This is what the press said…… “Unlike many reds that boast notes of chocolate, this 15 per cent ABV tipple is actually infused with real chocolate. Perhaps it’s a follow-up to their chocolate-flavoured port that flew off the shelves at £6.99 a bottle in 2008. Or maybe it’s inspired by Blumenthal’s own choc-wine that was also released in 2008 at £48 a bottle. Either way, with Britons spending £3.6billion on chocolate last year – and £38.4 billion on alcoholic drinks – M&S must think they’ve stumbled on a recipe for success”.
Dow’s Finest Reserve Port NV – a traditional wine to finish, Symington’s Dow Reserves are always good and very easy to drink – a great way to say “Happy Christmas” to everyone and special thanks to Jill and Hugh for hosting such a super evening.