Tasting Notes: ‘What does that wine remind me of?’ 11 January 2017, presented by John Harris

Wine 1: Trimbach Reserve Muscat 2014 (Wine Society £12.50) A wine that shows more its subtleties rather than the more contemporary styles of wines these days (big, brash and heady etc.). A wine that, we felt, was a more toned down style of Muscat. Subtle hints of elderflower, honeysuckles, but with a beautiful vibrancy.

Wine 2: Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer 2014 (Wine Society £13.50) Following a similar theme to wine number one. The 2014 Gewurz focused more on the elegant side of the variety. A much more restrained style, still showcasing the typical flavours of lychee, tropical fruits and spicy aromatics. A good backbone of acidity was present, lifting the wine, giving a mouth- watering finish. A welcomed change personally, after having experienced some rather forward, new world styled of Gewurztraminer.

Wine 3: Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Wine Society £9.95) This wine was textbook Kiwi Sauvignon. Unashamedly bold and heady in style, smacking your senses with the classic crab apple, gooseberry, citrus and nettles that so many people have come to love (or hate) about Kiwi Sauvignon. Well balanced on the palate, striking a fine line between acidity and fruit, with a good long finish.

Wine 4: Peter Lehmann Masters Wigan Riesling 2010 (Noel Young Wines £14.99) A personal favourite of mine out of the whites on the night. A Riesling that really showcases just how beautifully lean, slatey and mineral-like Riesling can be from some of the New World regions.To me, it’s like licking a piece of clean slate that’s been sprinkled with salt and lime, with a residual sweetness thrown in too.  (JH adds -for the group, mixed feelings on the night, the characteristic slight petrol tang on the nose is not to everyone’s liking, but it does demarcate a Riesling)

Wine 5: Martinborough Te Tera Pinot Noir 2013 (Wine Society £13.50) One of the most discussed wines of the night, alongside the Merlot that followed it. Traditional aromas of Morello Cherry with layers of dark forest fruit, with a vibrancy and elegance that Pinotphiles search for so eagerly. The palate had great body, texture and a warmth that threw some of us off the idea that this was a Pinot, and leaned more towards a Merlot. (PERSONAL NOTE: Good pinot, if a tad on the expensive side, at least at Majestic ( £14.99-£16.99). There are some good solid expressions of Pinot from Hawke’s Bay that are in the £10-£12 bracket).

Wine 6: Peltier Ranch Lodi Merlot 2014 (Wine Society £6.50) Interesting wine. Confused initially as a Pinot, due to a distinct lack of warmth, body and smoothness that you typically find in Merlot. Subjective as this all may be, the Merlot was a slight disappointment, even if the £6.50 price is reasonable. Clean, light and straightforward. (JH adds – personally not a Merlot fan, but this one did not have the plummy-ness that I dislike – very inexpenxive for a Californian Merlot)

Wine 7: L’Olibet ‘Saint Martin’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Pays d’Oc  (Noel Young Wines £7.99) The Grenache from these guys is one of my all-time favourite ‘every day’ reds. The Cabernet was a good, modern style of the Variety. Typically in the past, Cabernets have been seen to be stringent, grippy, with dark savoury fruit, and this is a variety that needs plenty of time to open up. However this was catering more to the modern palate, juicy, warming dark fruit. Still with its dark plummy fruit, savouriness and a subtle hint of star anise. Also if you looked close enough, after getting some air through the juice, there was a sinuous backbone of grip there. I wouldn’t say this wine was particularly representative of Cabernet, but I’d say this a good introduction for people who previously never got on well with Cabernet (like myself). (JH adds – I found this disappointing – it lacked the blackcurrant tang and touch of austerity I was expecting – young vines almost certainly – maybe to be expected at this price point)

Wine 8: Magpie Estate ‘The Black Craft’ Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia  (Noel Young Wines £11.49) The star of the reds and the star overall of the night. Barossa is home to some of the best Shiraz in the world. Magpie Estate is brilliant at sourcing wines from Australia’s most famous regions, whilst offering them at a price point that you haven’t seen for many years. The Shiraz was unashamedly Aussy in style. Big, bold, ripe fruit with cherries, plums with red and black berry fruits. But the true sign of a good wine, is how it feels and finishes. Some reds can feel  jammy and chewy… stewed almost, and finish rather harshly due to high extraction and alcohol. This is a beautifully crafted wine that keeps on giving without weighing you down.
Many thanks to Max Jewell for these notes!